Selective Formatting in Replacements

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 29, 2014)

Even though you cannot be selective in your searching (previous tip), Word can be much more flexible when it comes to actually replacing information. For instance, let's say you have a document in which you have many instances of the characters X45. If you want to find these characters and replace them with a regular X and a superscripted 45, there are several ways you can go about it.

The first method involves a two-step search and replace. You can follow these general steps:

  1. Search for the X45 string and replace all occurrences with X$%$%. The idea here is that $%$% is a string which is not used elsewhere in your document.
  2. Search for all occurrences of $%$% and replace it with a superscripted 45.

It doesn't take terribly long to do these two steps, and if you need to do them in multiple documents you can automate the process by recording a little macro that does them.

Another way to approach the problem is to create a little macro that does the actual search and replace in one pass of the document. The macro can find all occurrences of X45, select just the 45 part, make it superscript, and then go on to the next occurrence. The following macro does just that:

Sub DoX45()
    Dim oRng As Range
    With Selection
        .HomeKey unit:=wdStory
        With .Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Forward = True
            .text = "X45"
            .Execute
            While .Found
                Set oRng = ActiveDocument.Range _
                (Start:=Selection.Range.Start + 1, _
                  End:=Selection.Range.End)
                oRng.Font.Superscript = True
                oRng.Start = oRng.End
                .Execute
            Wend
        End With
    End With
End Sub

Finally, if you don't particularly care for macros, there is an even easier solution:

  1. Format the first instance of X45 the way you want it to appear.
  2. Select the instance and press Ctrl+C. The formatted version is now in the Clipboard.
  3. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  5. In the Find What box, type X45.
  6. In the Replace With box, type ^c.
  7. Click on Replace All.

By following these steps, Word replaces all instances of X45 with the contents of the Clipboard, which happens to be the formatted version you want to use. In other words, your text is formatted in one search and replace operation.

Note:

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 (1553) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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