How to Find and Replace Formatting in Microsoft Word and Excel

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With so many formatting options available on the Tape, Search and Replace is a little used alternative, although powerful. Here is how to use it.

When it comes to modifying the format of a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, you have some options. You can go to the Design tab in the ribbon and make changes that affect the entire document. You can stay in the Home tab and play with fonts and styles while browsing your document, or simply right-click on the text you want to modify and the Font or Paragraph menu will appear. Or, if you like the appearance of a certain paragraph, you can use Format Painter to copy it to others.

The first method is automatic but inflexible. The others require you to move and make changes manually. But there is also a compromise: you can use Search and replace.

No, it's not just for searching for words

You may know how to use Find and Replace when you need to change multiple instances of any text, but the superpower of the tool is also translated into a format. Change the appearance of all the text that has been formatted in a certain way, or change the text itself. You can even combine options and get super specific and sophisticated results. In this way, you can keep the unique changes you have made, such as having only certain double-spaced paragraphs, and at the same time apply the changes automatically in all the places you need them.

To begin, simply open the Search and Replace window, click More to expand the menu, and then click the Format button to see the list of available criteria .

 Click on Search format in Word

You will find that you can search for any format that appears in your document: fonts, paragraph designs like indent and alignment, or even the way the text wraps the images. Click on option Style for example, and you can change headers, bullets, and more. Or choose Highlight to find all the highlighted text.

Let's illustrate the formatting capabilities of Search and Replace with a simple example: change some fonts.

Find and replace fonts in Word [19659010] First you must find the font you want to change. To do this, click Format > Source to open the Search source window.

 Open window Search word source

You can choose the specific font, color, size and style you are looking for, and once you click ] OK your format selections will appear below the Search field (the image below shows that we want to find everything that is displayed in Rockwell Extra Bold). To search only the format, do not write anything inside the search fields; leave them blank. Otherwise, you can add text if you are also looking for specific content.

 Replace all Rockwell fonts with Arial in Word

Repeat the process to choose a replacement font if desired. And if you change your mind, just make sure your cursor is positioned in the relevant search field ( Find what if you are changing your search criteria or Replace with if you are changing the font of replacement) and modify your options as before. Click on Unformatted to start over.

In the following example, Word changed all of the large and bold Rockwell fonts from our document to Arial.

 Two font replacements in Word

Most other options (Paragraph, Frame, Style) work in the same way, and how you can combine them , it can be quite creative. An interesting trick is to search for words and specify only one source in the field Replace with . This will modify the source of the text you have searched for without changing what it says. Say, for example, that you have decided that a certain company name should be shown in bold in red throughout your document: enter the name of the company in the field Find what and choose the font style in bold and the font in red color for the field Replace with . This works in the opposite way: look for a font and replace everything that is displayed in that font with different words.

Now let's try this in Excel.

Finding and replacing the Excel format

Excel has some similar settings Click Options inside the Search and Replace window. Then, click on Format to specify what you are looking for (and with what you want to replace it, if applicable). Try clicking Choose Format from cell to choose an example cell from your spreadsheet instead of playing with colors and alignments in the Search format window.

 Click Format in Excel

Once you have chosen, Excel will fill a preview cell with your selections, and you are ready to begin. Look for cells with currency format, for example, and change them all to the accounting format. Find merged cells, or cells with specific border styles and fill colors. You can even search for locked or hidden cells. Then it's easy to replace them with any new format you choose in the field Replace with .

Use Find and Replace for personalization and convenience

With so many formatting options available on the ribbon, Search and Replace is an underutilized but powerful alternative. The advantage of this method over the use of the format configuration of the Design tab is the flexibility to choose specific elements and change only those, instead of imposing a new style on all the text of the document indiscriminately. And it is certainly more convenient than selecting pieces of text or sections of a spreadsheet with the cursor. Find and Replace can be useful, so do not forget it!

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