How to Search for a Word or Phrase in Microsoft Word

How to Search for a Word or Phrase in Microsoft Word

Finding a specific word or phrase can be difficult and time-consuming when dealing with lengthy bodies of text. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the Find tool to do a text search in Microsoft Word.

Using the Find tool to search for a word or phrase

  1. Open the Word document and click on the Home tab.

    Home tab in Word
    Click on the Home tab.

  2. Select Find in the “Editing” group. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + F (Windows PC) or Command + F (macOS) to open the Navigation pane.
    Select Find in the Editing group
    Select Find in the Editing group.

    Note: The Navigation Pane may also be accessed by going to the View tab on the Ribbon and choosing Navigation Pane from the Show group.

 Navigation pane from the View tab
View > Show > Navigation pane.
  1. In the Navigation pane, click on the search box.

    Navigation pane search box
    Click the search box.

  2. Enter the text (can include numbers or special characters) you want to search for. All the text matching the search phrase will be highlighted in yellow.

    Enter the search text
    Enter the search text.

  3. You can click one of the snippets displayed in the navigation pane under the Results tab to skip to a specific part of the text.

    Select text snippet
    Select one of the snippets to skip to a specific part of the text.

  4. When done, click the X to exit the Navigation pane. The yellow highlights on your text will disappear.

Using Find and Replace

Find and Replace is helpful if you’ve repeated a mistake across your text, such as misspelling a person’s name or need to replace a specific word or phrase with another. You can also use this feature to just ‘find’ or customize your search results further. Here’s how you can use Word’s Find and Replace tool to make quick changes.

  1. Click on the Home tab then select Replace from the “Editing” group. You can also open the Find and Replace dialog box by clicking Ctrl + H (Windows PC) or Command + H (MacOS).
    Home tab> Replace
    Click on the Home tab, then select Replace from the Editing group.

    The find and replace dialog box appears.

    Find and Replace dialog box
    Find and Replace dialog box.

  2. In the Find what field, type in the word or phrase you wish to search for.

    Find what field
    Type in the word you wish to search for in the Find what field.

  3. Enter the text you want to replace it with in the Replace with section.

    Replace with
    Enter the text you want to replace it with in the Replace with section.

  4. Click Replace to change matching text one by one, or select Replace All to replace every occurrence of the text in the document.

     Replace All
    Click Replace All.

Using the Advanced Find feature

This tool helps you customize the find and replace results even further. Here’s how to access Advanced Find:

  1. Press Ctrl + H to open the find and replace dialog box, then click on More.

    Click on More
    Click on More to open Advanced Find Options.

  2. The Search Options window appears.

    Search Options window
    Search Options window.

  3. Select the option that matches your search needs. The options available are:
  • Match Case: Matches text with the precise case as the Find What text.
  • Find whole words only: Only searches for whole words and ignores search results where the text is part of a word.
  • Sounds like (English): To find words that seem to rhyme with your search phrase.
  • Find all word forms (English): Finds related word forms. For example, searching for “eat” would also highlight “ate” and “eaten”.
  • Match prefix: Only locates words that start with the letters in the search.
  • Match suffix: Only looks for words that end with the characters in the search.
  • Ignore punctuation characters: Disregards punctuation in your document when locating the search phrase.

Phoebe is an HR assistant in her day job, but is also a web blogger that loves writing guides and sharing her experiences. When she is not out with her friends, she enjoys traveling or binge-watching Netflix. She graduated with a BA in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Utah, and is a chief editor at TechObservatory.

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