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: Searching for White Space.

Searching for White Space

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 13, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters that normally do not print. Word even provides a shorthand character to search for white space. White space is any combination of spaces, tabs, paragraph marks, newline characters, and breaks. In short, it is most non-printing characters.

To search for white space, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter the text for which you want to search. To search for white space, enter ^w (it is important to use a lowercase w).
  4. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  5. Click your mouse on Find Next.

Word then finds the first occurrence of white space. Remember that this includes any non-printing characters.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1813) 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: Searching for White Space.

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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