How to Find and Replace Formatting in Microsoft Word

820133 How to Find and Replace Formatting in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace feature allows you to not only find and replace text, but also specific formatting in your documents. This can save you a lot of time compared to manually changing formatting throughout a long document. Here’s how to use Find and Replace for formatting in Word:

Find and Replace Character Formatting

Character formatting applies to the text itself, including options like font, font size, color, bold, italic, underline, etc. Here are the steps to find and replace character formatting:

  1. Press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace dialog box
  2. Click the More button to expand the dialog box if needed
  3. Make sure the insertion point is blinking in the Find What box
  4. Click the Format button at the bottom of the dialog box
  5. Select the type of character formatting you want to find
    • Options include font, font style, color, underline, strikethrough, etc.
  6. Configure the specifics for that formatting
    • For example, choose Arial font, 14 pt size, blue color, etc.
  7. Click OK
  8. In the Replace With box, set the new formatting you want to replace the original formatting
  9. Click Replace All to replace all instances, or click Find Next to step through each occurrence

For example, to find all text formatted as blue and replace it with red:

  1. Press Ctrl + H
  2. Click Format
  3. Select Font
  4. Choose blue color
  5. Click OK
  6. In Replace With, choose red color
  7. Click Replace All

Find and Replace Paragraph Formatting

Paragraph formatting applies to entire paragraphs and includes options like alignment, line spacing, indentation, borders, shading, etc. Here are the steps:

  1. Press Ctrl + H
  2. Click More if needed
  3. Click Format
  4. Select Paragraph formatting
  5. Choose the specific paragraph formatting, like left aligned or 1.5 line spacing
  6. Click OK
  7. Set the new paragraph formatting in Replace With
  8. Use Replace All or Find Next

For example, to find all centered paragraphs and left align them:

  1. Press Ctrl + H
  2. Click Format
  3. Select Paragraph
  4. Choose Centered alignment
  5. Click OK
  6. In Replace With, select Left alignment
  7. Click Replace All

Tips for Using Find and Replace for Formatting

Here are some tips when using Find and Replace for formatting in Word:

  • Save your document first before using Replace All, in case you need to undo the changes
  • Pay attention to the search direction setting to search the entire document
  • You can search for both character and paragraph formatting at the same time
  • Use No Formatting to clear any previous formatting search settings
  • Use Replace instead of Replace All to step through occurrences before changing

Additional Formatting Options

In addition to character and paragraph formatting, you can use Find and Replace to modify other formatting elements like:

  • Styles: Find text with a certain style applied, like Heading 1, and replace it with another style
  • Tables: Find tables with specific alignment, borders, shading etc and replace the formatting
  • Lists: Find numbered or bulleted lists with specific formatting applied and replace it
  • Sections: Find sections with certain page layout settings like margins, orientation, columns etc and replace with new layout options
  • Frames: Find text boxes, images, shapes, or other framed objects with specific wrapping, positioning, borders etc and replace those frame formats
  • Comments: Find comments by a certain author or with other criteria and replace the comment formatting

So if you need to change the formatting for a specific text element throughout your document, use the Find and Replace tool rather than doing it manually. This will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort!

Step-by-Step Example

Let’s go through an example to see how we can find and replace formatting in practice.

For this example, we have a document with multiple occurrences of the word “formatting” formatted in italic. We want to find all those instances and format them as bold instead.

Find the Formatting to Replace

  1. Press Ctrl + H to open Find and Replace
  2. Click More to expand the dialog box
  3. Confirm the insertion point is blinking in Find What
  4. Click Format at the bottom
  5. Choose Font
  6. Check the Italic option to find all italic text
  7. Click OK

Specify the New Formatting

  1. In the Replace With box, click Format again
  2. Choose Font
  3. Check the Bold option
  4. Click OK

Run the Replace

  1. Make sure the proper search direction is chosen
  2. Click Replace All

And that’s it! The Find and Replace tool will now locate all instances of “formatting” in italic and convert the text to bold.

By using Find and Replace for formatting like this, we were able to accomplish a formatting change in seconds that could have taken ages to do manually.


Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace feature offers powerful options for locating and modifying text formatting. With just a few clicks, you can find and replace character and paragraph formatting, styles, tables, frames, comments, and more.

So the next time you need to make a formatting change throughout a document, use Find and Replace. It will save you tremendous time and effort compared to manual editing. Just be sure to save first and confirm the changes are what you want!

With these steps and tips, you’ll be a pro at using Find and Replace for formatting in Word.

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