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Chapter 4. Editing and Formatting Text > Finding and Replacing Text

Finding and Replacing Text

When you want to find or replace a piece of text in an Office document, the method is pretty much the same no matter which application you use—except for Outlook. To find a particular text string, do the following:

  1. Choose Edit, Find. Type the text you want to locate in the Find What box.

  2. Set up the parameters, known as criteria, for your search. Depending upon which Office application you are using, the process of setting up your search criteria will vary:

    • In Word, Publisher, FrontPage, or the Outlook email editor, you may choose whether you want to search Up (toward the beginning of the document) or Down (toward the end). In Access, you can choose Up or Down as well, but to do so you have to click the More button in the dialog box (see Figure 4.6). In Excel or PowerPoint, you have no choice as to direction—the first Find uncovers the first occurrence of the string; subsequent Find Nexts move to later occurrences. The Search All option in Access also finds the first occurrence, the same as an Excel or PowerPoint Find.

      Figure 4.6. You can specify the direction for a Find in Outlook, but the Search box is hidden behind the More button.

    • Excel lets you choose whether you want to search row-major (going across the current row before dropping down to the next one) or column-major (going down the current column before looking at the next one to the right). Make your choice in the Search box. Excel also allows you to look at formulas (page 502) or values (that is, formula results). If you have a cell that contains the formula =SUM(A1:B3), for example, searching the formulas for B3 results in a hit, whereas searching the values doesn't.


      Excel lets you easily search for text in comments. This feature can come in handy if you're scanning for comments from a specific individual or those that apply to a given topic. To do so, select Comments in the Look In box.

    • All the Office applications let you specify that you want to Match Case (the accelerator key varies from application to application). With this box checked, the capitalization shown in the Find What text box must match the capitalization of the text in the document precisely to get a "hit."

    • Word, FrontPage, Publisher, the Outlook email editor, and PowerPoint let you restrict the search to Find Whole Words Only, by checking a box. In that situation, the text in the Find What field must appear in the document preceded and followed by a space or punctuation mark: beast, for example, will match beast but not beasts. Excel has a comparable check box that limits hits to cells where the entire cell contents matches the text in the Find What box. Similarly, Access can limit hits to those that match the entire field.

  3. With the find criteria established the way you want, click Find Next and the application selects the next occurrence of the text.



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