Use Find and Replace to Change Formatting in Microsoft Word Documents

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated May 13, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 or 365 (Windows)

You can find and replace formatting in Word by searching for specific formatting, such as bold or italic, and changing it to other formats. You or even search for text with specific formatting and change the text and the formats. With Find and Replace, you can search for and change both character and paragraph formatting.

You may want to use Find and Replace in the following scenarios:

  • You want to remove character formatting throughout your document such as every instance of bold. Character formatting includes any formatting in the Font group on the Home tab in the Ribbon or in the Font dialog box.
  • You want to change every instance of one font and change it to another font.
  • You want to find every instance of blue and change it to green.
  • You want to format specific text with consistent formatting. For example, you want to format every instance of your company name in bold and blue.
  • You want to find and change paragraph formatting. For example, for every paragraph that is aligned to the right with single line spacing, you'd like to align to the left and change the line spacing.

Note: The better way to handle global formatting changes is to use styles but if you haven't used styles, Find and Replace provides a fast way to make changes throughout your document. You can even use Find and Replace to change styles.

Recommended article: How to Find and Replace in Word (and Use Wildcards)

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Note: Screenshots in this article are from Word 365 but are similar in previous versions of Word.

The Replace command appears on the Home tab in the Ribbon in the Editing group:

Find and replace on Home tab in the Ribbon in Word.

If you want to perform advanced Find and Replace tasks, you will need to display the expanded Find and Replace dialog box by clicking More:

Find and replace dialog box in Word expanded with Format options.

When you run through a Find and Replace task, if you're not satisfied with the results after you close the dialog box, press Ctrl + Z to undo and try it again.

Find and Replace character formatting

If you want to search for character formatting only, such as bold or italic, you can use Find and Replace.

If you want to find and replace specific character formatting (such as replacing italic with bold), you may have to run through the find and replace process more than once.

To find and replace character formatting in a Word document:

  1. Position the cursor at the beginning of the document.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Editing group, click Replace to display the Replace dialog box. Alternatively, press Ctrl + H to display the Replace dialog box.
  4. Click More if necessary to display the expanded Find and Replace options.
  5. Click in the Find what box.
  6. Click Format at the bottom of the dialog box. A drop-down menu appears.
  7. Select Font. A dialog box appears.
  8. Select the format(s) you want to find (such as Italic in the Font Style area).
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click in the Replace with box.
  11. Click Format and then select Font.
  12. Select the format you want to use as a replacement (such as Bold in the Font Style area).
  13. Click OK.
  14. Click Find Next and then click Replace for each occurrence or click Replace All. If you are trying to replace italic with bold, this would add bold and keep the italic.
  15. If you now want to remove the italic, ensure Italic appears below Find What.
  16. Click in the Replace with box.
  17. Click the arrow beside Format and then select Font.
  18. In the Font Style area, click No Italic.
  19. Click OK.
  20. Click Find Next and then click Replace for each occurrence or click Replace All.
  21. Click Close.

In the following example, the Find and Replace dialog box is used to find text in bold and would add italic:

Find and Replace dialog box in Word to find bold and replace with italic.

If you want to find and replace a font, that should require only one find and replace task. If you want to find and remove a font color, you can find a font color (such as blue) and replace it with a font color of Automatic.

Remove character formatting using Find and Replace

To remove character formatting using Find and Replace in a Word document:

Position the cursor at the beginning of the document.

  1. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Editing group, click Replace to display the Replace dialog box. Alternatively, press Ctrl + H to display the Replace dialog box.
  3. Click More if necessary to display the expanded Find and Replace options.
  4. Click in the Find what box.
  5. Click Format at the bottom of the dialog box. A drop-down menu appears.
  6. Select Font. A dialog box appears.
  7. Select the format(s) you want to find.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click in the Replace with box.
  10. Click Format and select Font.
  11. Select Regular in the Font Style area and turn off any other formatting.
  12. Click OK.
  13. Click Find Next and then click Replace for each occurrence or click Replace All.
  14. Click Close.

In the following example, Find and Replace is used to find text formatted in italic and remove it:

Find and replace dialog box in Word to find italic and remove it.

The Replace Font dialog box includes options like Not Bold, Not Italic and Regular to remove formatting (the filled check boxes that appear are left as is):

Replace Font dialog box in Word.

Clear Find and Replace formatting from previous searches

If you have performed a previous find and replace with formatting, you'll want to remove those options if you want to perform another search.

To remove previous formatting in the Find and Replace dialog box:

  1. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Editing group, click Replace to display the Replace dialog box. Alternatively, press Ctrl + H to display the Replace dialog box.
  3. Click More if necessary to display the expanded Find and Replace options.
  4. Click in the Find What box.
  5. Click No Formatting at the bottom of dialog box.
  6. Click in the Replace With box.
  7. Click No Formatting at the bottom of dialog box.
  8. Continue with your next Find and Replace task.

Find and Replace paragraph formatting

You can also use Find and Replace to change paragraph formatting. For example, you may want to find every instance of a paragraph with a space before of 9 pt and a space after of 7 pt and change it to a space before of 8 pt and a space after of 6 pt. As mentioned above, this type of formatting can be included in styles.

To change paragraph formatting using Find and Replace in a Word document:

  1. Position the cursor at the beginning of the document.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Editing group, click Replace to display the Replace dialog box. Alternatively, press Ctrl + H to display the Replace dialog box.
  4. Click More if necessary to display the expanded Find and Replace options.
  5. Click in the Find what box.
  6. Click Format at the bottom of the dialog box. A drop-down menu appears.
  7. Select Paragraph. A dialog box appears.
  8. Select the format(s) you want to find. You can also enter specific amounts in this dialog box (such as 9 pt before). Paragraph formatting includes alignment, indents, line spacing and space before and after.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click in the Replace with box.
  11. Click Format and then select Paragraph.
  12. Select the format(s) you want to use as replacements. You can also enter specific amounts in this dialog box (such as 8 pt before).
  13. Click OK.
  14. Click Find Next and then click Replace for each occurrence or click Replace All.
  15. Click Close.

In the example below, Find and Replace will search for any paragraphs with a space before of 9 and a space after of 7 and then replace it with a space before of 8 and space after of 6.

Find and replace dialog box in Word to find and replace paragraph formatting.

Find and Replace Text with Formatting

You can also enter text in the Find what and Replace with boxes if you want to find text with specific formatting and replace it.

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Summary
How to Find and Replace Formatting in Word (such as Bold, Italic and Font)
Article Name
How to Find and Replace Formatting in Word (such as Bold, Italic and Font)
Description
You can find and replace formatting in Word by searching for specific formatting, such as bold or italic, and changing it to other formats. You or even search for text with specific formatting and change the text and the formats. With Find and Replace, you can search for and change both character and paragraph formatting.
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Avantix Learning

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