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Finding and Replacing Spaces in Word 2010

There are several reasons we might need to find and replace spaces in Word. Perhaps we were taught to put two spaces between sentences and now need to update documents to have only one space.  Or possibly we have a coworker who likes to separate ideas with several spaces instead of a tab or hard return. Using Word’s Find and Replace feature, we can easily find these extra spaces and replace them with the formatting of our choice (single space, tab, or hard return).

Finding and Replacing Two Spaces

To open the Find and Replace dialog box, on the Ribbon, click:  and choose “Advanced Find…”

The Find and Replace dialog box opens.  Click the Replace tab at the top of the dialog box.

To find two spaces, in the “Find what” field, type: 2 spaces.  In the “Replace with” field, type: 1 space.

Because the spaces don’t appear as text, the Find and Replace dialog box will seem to be empty…but it isn’t.

To find the first occurence of two spaces, click: . The cursor will move to the first set of two spaces. To replace these with a single space, click: . The cursor will automatically move to the next occurence of two spaces. Of course, you could always choose to Replace All the double spaces.

Finding and Replacing a Varying Number of Spaces

Now, what about that coworker who tends to separate ideas or lists with several spaces instead of a tab or hard return?  How can we find a group of spaces that varies in number? This is just slightly trickier than finding 2 spaces.

Open the Find and Replace dialog box by clicking and choosing “Advanced Find…”

Move to the Replace tab at the top of the dialog box.

To find a varying number of spaces, we will use the {n,} sequence. This tells Word to find any occurence of at least n number of the previous character. In our case the previous character will be a space.

In the “Find what” field, type: space {2,}.

What do we want to use to replace the multiple spaces? If we’d like to insert a tab, we type: ^t. To insert a single space, type: 1 space. To insert a hard return, type: ^p

Let’s replace the spaces with a hard return. To do this, in the “Replace with” field, type: ^p.

Before this will work, we need to make sure that the “Use wildcards” option is activated. Without this, we won’t get the results we want.

To see additional options, click: . The dialog box expands. To activate the “Use wildcards” option, click the checkbox.

The dialog box should look like this:

To find the first occurence of two or more spaces, click: . The cursor will move to the first set of two or more spaces. To replace these with a hard return, click: . The cursor will automatically move to the next occurence of multiple spaces. Of course, you could always choose to Replace All the multiple spaces.

 


2 Responses to "Finding and Replacing Spaces in Word 2010" to “Finding and Replacing Spaces in Word 2010”

  1. TechGuru Says:

    There are good commercial tools are available which help in Find and replace words in Multiple files.

    http://www.lantechsoft.com/advance-find-replace.html

  2. Dr. Dirk Dierkhising Says:

    The instructions on how to find and replace multiple spaces in a MS Word document was most helpful.
    Other Help tips suggested to use the “Special” White Space option of the replace function. Unfortunately, that seems to not work.

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