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: Automatically Formatting Text within Quotes.

Automatically Formatting Text within Quotes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 17, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Sandy asked how to find all text between quotation marks and format it to be bold. The solution needs to be able to handle multiple words between the quote marks—entire phrases that need to be bold. This is an interesting question, and there are several ways that it can be approached.

One approach is to use Word's powerful Find and Replace feature to do just what you need. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Replace from the Edit menu. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter the following:
  4.      ["|"]*["|"]
  5. This must be entered just as it is, without spaces. The character after the first vertical bar is an opening smart quote, and the one after the second vertical bar is a closing smart quote. The smart quotes are entered in the dialog box by holding down the Alt key and typing 0147 on the keypad for the first one, and then 0148 for the second one.
  6. Move the insertion point to the Replace With box.
  7. Click on Format, then Font. Word displays the Replace Font dialog box. (You may need to click on the More button before you can see the Format button.)
  8. Click on Bold option in the Font Style list.
  9. Click on OK.
  10. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  11. Click on Replace all.

Notice that when Word is done with this search and replace, it will have bolded not only the text within the quotes, but the quotes themselves. If you want to change the quotes back to normal, you can do another wildcard search, this time looking for simply ["|"|"] (step 2, with the last two quotes being opening and closing smart quotes) and replacing it with Not Bold formatting (step 5).

It is interesting to note that you must search for ["|"]*["|"] and not simply for "*". The reason for this is quite simple. If you are getting your documents (the ones you are formatting) from someone else, you don't know right off the bat if they used smart quotes, regular quotes, or a combination of both. By using the brackets surrounding the two types of quotes on both sides of a vertical bar, you are telling Word to match with either type of opening or closing quote. When you have Use Wildcards selected, Word discriminates between regular and smart quotes. (It doesn't discriminate if you are using Search and Replace without wildcards turned on.)

If you need to do quite a bit of formatting of information between quotes in this manner, the best bet is to create a macro that you can then add to a menu choice or a toolbar button. Perhaps the easiest way is to simply use the macro recorder to record the above steps. If you prefer, you can utilize the following VBA macro to do the trick:

Sub BoldBetweenQuotes()
' base for a quotes finding macro
    Dim blnSearchAgain As Boolean
    ' move to start of doc
    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
     ' start of loop
        ' set up find of first of quote pair
        With Selection.Find
            .Text = Chr(34)
            .Replacement.Text = ""
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
        End With
        If Selection.Find.Found Then
            Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
            ' switch on selection extend mode
            ' find second quote of this pair
            If Selection.Find.Found Then
                Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
                ' make it bold
                Selection.Font.Bold = True
                Selection.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseEnd
                Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
                blnSearchAgain = True
                blnSearchAgain = False
            End If
            blnSearchAgain = False
        End If
    Loop While blnSearchAgain
End Sub


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1500) 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: Automatically Formatting Text within Quotes.

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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What is nine minus 3?

2020-02-13 16:06:34


Hi Allen, thank you for this helpful macro. However, in my case, the macro will end up formating the whole text following the first quote. How can I fix this?
Thank you again for your time and effort!

2018-11-05 21:33:19


Hi Allen,

This is exactly what I'm looking for, but I can't get it to work properly.

I want to Bold 45 terms in legal documents, but the above Sub only Boldens the first term.

I also tried the Find and Replace method, but get an Error on the \2\1| entry.

Could you please clarify how to to get the Sub to loop over and over again?


2015-04-06 11:38:09


The above works great! However, I am trying find some code that would apply bold to text inside both quotes and parentheses. See below.

Quick Styles (“Quick Styles”) gallery

The macro here stops at text inside of quotes in a parentheses. Any help would be appreciated.

2015-04-05 00:34:54

Dave M

How would you modify the above macro if there were other characters you wanted to format between? I'm proofreading a friend's book and there are passages he uses double carats to designate emphasis and I would like to use a macro to italicize between them.

<< John did stuff. >>


<< <i> John did stuff. </i> >>

2014-10-14 18:55:00

Kim Chrisom

Can you do this with underlining? I got it to work with Bold and Italics, but not underlining and would LOVE to be able to do that on large documents. Thanks in advance.

2014-08-24 13:36:26


Many Thanks!!! This worked like a charm.

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