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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 varies depending on which application you use. To find a particular text string, do the following:

Choose Edit, Find. Type the text you want to locate in the Find What box. Word's Find and Replace dialog box is shown in Figure 4.5.

Figure 4.5. Word has the most comprehensive Find and Replace options, all of which are available in Outlook as well if you use Word as the e-mail editor.

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

  • In Outlook, Word, and Access, you can choose whether you want to search Up (toward the beginning of the document) or Down (toward the end). (To reach this option in Word, click the More button.) In Excel (see Figure 4.6) or PowerPoint, you have no choice as to direction—the first Find uncovers the first occurrence of the string; subsequent Find Next selections move to later occurrences. In Word and Access, you can choose the Search All option, which finds the first occurrence of your search text in the current document or database object, the same as an Excel or PowerPoint Find.

    Figure 4.6. Excel's Find and Replace is remarkably different from Word's.

  • Excel enables you to choose whether you want to search row-major (“Search By Rows” going across the current row before dropping down to the next one) or column-major (“Search By Columns” going down the current column before looking at the next one to the right). Make your choice in the Search box. Excel also enables you to look at formulas 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 allows you to 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 allow you to specify that you want to Match Case (as in the PowerPoint dialog box shown in Figure 4.7). With this check box selected, the capitalization shown in the Find What text box must match the capitalization of the text in the document precisely to get a “hit.”

    Figure 4.7. PowerPoint's Spartan Find dialog box is limited.

  • Using the Find dialog box in Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint, you can select a check box that restricts the search to Find Whole Words Only. When this option is enabled, 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.

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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