Monthly Archives: February 2015

Control + F: More than just finding stuff

Lately I’ve been working on some long Word documents (hundreds of pages) with my husband. We’re both using Microsoft Office 2013, and there are some amazing features in 2013, some of which first appeared in 2007 but we’re just utilizing now. Our favorites can be found when you type the control key (Ctrl) and the letter F at the same time. I’ve known about Ctrl+F for a long time as a way to find a specific word in a document or on a webpage, but finding a word is the least interesting thing you can do with Ctrl+F in Word 2013.

So, for the sake of argument, say you’re writing a novel with 50 or so chapters. By using the Heading options on the Home ribbon you can make it pretty effortless to go to the start of any chapter. First, put your cursor at the beginning of the line you want to be the heading, a chapter number, for instance, and then click on Heading 1.


When you then type Ctrl+F, a Navigation pane opens on the left side of the screen. There the headings will appear as hyperlinks that when clicked take you to that part of the document.


And you can still use this to find all occurrences of a word in the document, but again, in the pane on the left, each time the word appears it is as a hyperlink, so that clicking on it takes you directly to that word in the document.


The arrow at the far right of the search box in the Navigation pane contains many more options for finding and replacing pretty much anything in a document. For now I’m going to just mention my favorite, but it serves as an example with other applications. Start by clicking the arrow and selecting Replace….


Now, I’ve been using universal find and replace for a long time. This is where you type a word you no longer wish used in the top box Find what. Below in the Replace with box, you type the new word you want to use. In other words, if you’ve decided you don’t want your hero to be named Bob, but Jack, you can type Bob in the top box, Jack in the lower, and click Replace All. Every instance of Bob in the document will be changed to Jack.

But you can do this with more than words. For instance, much like in this blog, when I write, I tend to start a new paragraph by hitting the Enter key twice and not indenting. However, I recently needed to change 300 pages formatted this way to one Enter and an indent. Luckily, you can make a universal formatting change if you know the right symbols, and Word makes it pretty easy to find those symbols.

With the Replace box open, select Special to see the list of special characters. Paragraph Mark is at the top and just below that is Tab Character. What I want to do is replace two paragraph marks with a single Paragraph Mark and a Tab. So I clicked Paragraph Mark twice, moved my cursor down to Replace with and clicked Paragraph Mark once followed by Tab Character.


It ends up looking like this, ^p being the symbol for Paragraph and ^t the symbol for Tab.


Once I click Replace All, my document goes from looking like this:


To this:


And that’s just one example of what can be changed under Special. In fact, you can type anything in those Find and Replace boxes. Obviously, I can’t take a picture of it, but you can replace two spaces after a period with one by simply hitting the space bar twice in the Find what box and then once in the Replace with box. So next time you want to navigate or change something in a document, try Ctrl+F to see all of the ways Word makes that a pretty easy process.