Microsoft Word Advanced Search and Replace

The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste.
Steve Jobs

If you have to use Microsoft Word, the Search and Replace Feature is worth a closer look (Yeah, it’s called “Find and Replace”, but that’s just stupid. Find implies that it exists, which isn’t a given). Sure, in its usual form, there’s just a search box. You have to either press (on Mac) cmd + Shift + H to get the “Find and Replace” Box. But click on the gears icon and select “Advanced Find and Replace”:

Alternativ Route: Edit > Find > Advanced Find and Replace (no default Keyboard shortcut).

In typical Microsoft fashion, you end up with a(nother) search (sorry, find box):

But if you select “Replace”, things get interesting …

especially when you click on the down arrow:

and explore the “Format”:

and “Special” drop down menus:

Take for example the Format menu — you can select “Font” and select a specific font, e.g., Courier, because that’s the font you (religiously) used for annotations in a document, and you can search for ^? which means “Any single character” (letter or number). You could easily search for text color or any other attribute. And yeah, it works well with my thesis template.

/!\ Make sure the right field is active when you select the Font. You want it in the “Search (argh, Find) what:” box.

Notice the “Format: Font: Courier” below the “Find what:” Field. It searches for any character (letter or number), but only if this character is also in the font Courier.

If you execute the search and replace (at best with “Replace all”), you replace any characters or letters in the document that are in Courier font with nothing (if the “Replace with” is empty). Thus, you remove any of those annotations from the document. (Still check the result, Replace All is … tricky.)

That’s only one usage, and perhaps not the best one, but you get the idea. Searching for Formatting (or special characters) is very powerful if you work with Word Documents. Sure, you rarely need it, and you need a religiously formatted document. But if you need it, it can save you a lot of time.

And that’s pretty much one of the reasons why I hate-hate-HATE Word. It is powerful, go lots of features, but it hides them. And that sucks. It’s made for the lowest common denominator, and Microsoft sets the bar extremely low. (Perhaps with good reason, but still, in earlier versions you could easily structure your bar with icons and you liked. They’ve made that much more difficult. And the changing Tabs … garrarrrrhh. It’s distracting and slow. It’s like a work creation scheme for those who have to work with it.