Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Mass Search and Replace.

Mass Search and Replace

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 6, 2014)

Over time it is very possible to collect a huge number of documents. At some point you may want to make the same change to each of the documents in the collection. For instance, you may need to change the company name within each document. Obviously you can open each document, make the change, and then save the document, but that process can quickly become tiring if you have hundreds or thousands of documents to process.

What to do? Consistent with the point that has been made in other issues of WordTips, anytime you have something that is mundane and tiresome to accomplish, you can often use a macro to handle the work for you. For instance, you could write a macro that would step through all the documents in a directory, load each in turn, search for and change the necessary text, and resave the document. This process is no different than the process you would follow manually, except that it is done under the control of the macro. This makes it much easier and faster.

The following is an example of a macro that could do the trick:

Public Sub MassReplace()
    With Application.FileSearch
        .LookIn = "C:\"             ' where to search
        .SearchSubFolders = True    ' search the subfolders
        .FileName = "*.doc"         ' file pattern to match

        ' if more than one match, execute the following code
        If .Execute() > 0 Then
            ' to display how many files this macro will access,
            ' uncomment the next line of code
'            MsgBox "Found " & .FoundFiles.Count & " file(s)."

            ' for each file you find, run this loop
            For i = 1 To .FoundFiles.Count
                ' open the file based on its index position
                Documents.Open FileName:=.FoundFiles(i)

                ' search and replace the company name
                selection.Find.ClearFormatting
                selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
                With selection.Find
                    .Text = "OldCompanyName"
                    .MatchCase = True
                    .Replacement.Text = "NewCompanyName"
                End With
                selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

                ' replace street address
                With selection.Find
                    .Text = "OldStreetAddress"
                    .Replacement.Text = "NewStreetAddress"
                End With
                selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

                ' replace the City, State, and Zip code
                With selection.Find
                    .Text = "OldCityStateAndZip"
                    .Replacement.Text = "NewCityStateAndZip"
                End With
                selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

                ' save and close the current document
                ActiveDocument.Close wdSaveChanges
            Next i
        Else
            ' if the system cannot find any files
            ' with the .doc extension
            MsgBox "No files found."
        End If
    End With
End Sub

This macro is quite powerful, and it allows you to not just change a company name, but also your company's address. All you need to do is make changes to specify which directory and drive to use in your search, as well as what the old and new company information is.

If dealing with macros is a little beyond what you want to tackle, there are also a number of different commercial products available that will work with Word documents. Various subscribers have suggested the following programs:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1462) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Mass Search and Replace.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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