Find or Search for Text in Microsoft Word (2 Ways)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated March 22, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)

You can search for text in Word documents using the Navigation Pane or the Find and Replace dialog box. The text could be a word, phrase or even a few characters. There are several advanced options for searching for text including using wildcards and matching upper and lower case.

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Searching for text using the Navigation Pane

One way to search for text in Word is to use the Navigation Pane. When you display the Navigation Pane, it will appear on the left side of the screen.

To search for text using the Navigation Pane:

  1. Click at the beginning of the document or press Ctrl + Home.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Editing group, click Find. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl + F. The Navigation Pane appears.
  4. In the Navigation Pane, click in the Search box.
  5. Enter the text you want to find and press Enter. All instances of the matching text n the document will be displayed in the Navigation Pane in the Results area.
  6. Click the up and down arrows in the Navigation Pane to move from instance to instance. You can also click directly on a snippet in the Navigation Pane to jump to the selected text.

In the following example, search text has been entered in the Search box in the Navigation Pane:

Navigation pane in Word with text entered in the Search box.

The Navigation Pane can also be displayed by clicking the View tab in the Ribbon and selecting Navigation Pane in the Show group:

View tab in the Word Ribbon to display Navigation Pane.

Searching for text using the Find and Replace dialog box

You can also use the Find and Replace dialog box to search for text. The dialog box provides several options for more advanced searching.

To search for text using the Find and Replace dialog box:

  1. Click at the beginning of the document or press Ctrl + Home.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Editing group, click the arrow beside Find and then click Advanced Find in the drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl + H. A dialog box appears.
  4. If necessary, click the Find tab.
  5. Click More. The expanded dialog box appears.
  6. Click in the Find what box.
  7. Select Match case if you want to match upper and lower case.
  8. Select Use wildcards if you want to use wildcards (this turns off the Match case option).
  9. In the Find what box, enter the characters, word or phrase you want to find.
  10. Click Find Next. Word will move to the first instance of the text.
  11. Repeat if necessary.

You can use wildcards when you search for text if you have selected Use wildcards. In the Find box, two wildcards are typically used – ? (question mark) for a single character or * (asterisk) for multiple characters. For example, h??l would find hill or hall. If you type the *, you can find multiple characters. For example, North* would find North York or North Pole.

Word uses “lazy” matching by default. This means it will stop matching as soon as possible and you can type just a few characters in the Find what box. So, if you type north, Word would find each instance with north without using wild cards. It would, however, only highlight the letters you typed in the Find what box.

In the following example, the user has entered text they want to find and used the * wildcard for multiple characters:

Find and Replace dialog box in Word to search for text.

When you select Use wildcards, Word turns off the match case option so wildcard searches are case sensitive.

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Summary
How to Search for Text in Word
Article Name
How to Search for Text in Word
Description
You can search for text in Word documents using the Navigation Pane or the Find and Replace dialog box. The text could be a word, phrase or even a few characters. There are several advanced options for searching for text including using wildcards and matching upper and lower case.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning

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