How To Find and Replace Text in Documents in 3 Simple Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Find and replace is a function that allows users to search through text and replace certain parts of it. This is a useful tool in many different applications and programs. If you want to build your computer skills, consider learning more about this helpful computer shortcut. In this article, we provide steps for how to find and replace text in documents and offer tips and other key information about this popular function.

What is the find and replace function?

The find and replace function is a tool to locate a certain word, phrase, number or character in a document and replace it with a different word, phrase, number or character. Instead of reviewing and changing particular parts of a document manually, professionals can use the find and replace function to edit their text automatically. While the "Find" function allows users to search through documents easily instead of reading them over word by word, the "Replace" function enables users to update a large amount of disparate data at once.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Why is the find and replace function important?

The find and replace function can be useful in many situations. It's a common shortcut that can help professionals in a diversity of industries to revise outdated information, automate tasks and complete work efficiently. Here are some examples of circumstances in which this feature may prove helpful:

  • Changing a company name: If business leaders decide to change the name of a company or organization, this likely means it's necessary to adjust the name in marketing materials, business plans and other key documents. Finding and replacing the old name with the new one can make this process quick and easy.

  • Changing the year in headers: Many professionals use templates of headers and footers to label work documents with dates and other information. By finding and replacing the date, you can make sure that your document headers and footers represent the correct year.

  • Fixing spelling and grammatical errors: If you know you tend to spell a certain word wrong or make a grammatical error, finding and replacing this word or phrase can be a great way to proofread your text. You can also use the "Find" function to see how many times you use certain words or phrases and prevent redundancies by changing your vocabulary.

Related: How To Search in Excel in 5 Steps (Plus Tips)

How to find and replace text in documents

The find and replace function is a part of many applications but is most common in word processing and text editing programs. The steps for using it are typically the same across various software. Follow these three steps to find and replace text in documents:

1. Open your text or document

First, open the application and document that has the text with which you're working. Make sure to have the application or window selected on your device. This ensures your keyboard commands can register and search through the correct text.

2. Locate the text

In most applications, select "Control" and "F" or "Command" and "F" to open a search box. Then, type the word or phrase you're seeking, and the app highlights the occurrences of that word throughout your text. Typically, you can then scroll the numbered results.

3. Replace the text

To replace text in Windows, select "Control" and "H" to open the replace dialog box. Then, enter the text you're seeking and the new text you wish to see in its place. Click "Replace" to replace the first result, or select "Replace all" to replace all occurrences of the text. If you want to delete the words or phrases, leave the "Replace" field blank and select the "Replace all" button. This replaces all occurrences of that text with nothing or blank space, thus deleting them. The box may have more options to try, depending on the app.

How to find and replace text in Docs

Here are a few steps you can take to find and replace text in Docs:

  1. Open your document. Make sure it's the correct text with which you want to work.

  2. Find the text. Use the regular "Control" and "F" or "Command" and "F" methods to find the correct text.

  3. Replace the text. Press the three dots to open the replace dialog box, enter the old and new text and select "Replace" or "Replace all."

  4. Consider the "Match" option. The "Match case" or "Match using regular expressions" option allows users to find types of text, like email addresses and symbols, instead of just exact words or phrases.

Related: How To Create a Folder in Google Docs in 6 Steps

How to find and replace text in Word

Here are four steps to help you find and replace text in Word:

  1. Open your document. Make sure it's the correct text with which you want to work.

  2. Open the replace dialog box. Select "Control" and "H" on a PC or "Command," "Shift" and "H" on a Mac to open the find and replace sidebar.

  3. Replace the text. Enter the old and new text and select the "Replace" or "Replace all" option.

  4. Explore other search options. Word allows users to search by homophones, formatting, language or special characters. Select "More" to find these options.

Related: How To Use Autofill in Word in 4 Steps (With Tips)

Tips for using the find and replace function

Here are some tips for using this important function:

  • Explore the program. While the find and replace function is typically a universal feature, all software and operating systems are different. It's beneficial for you to explore, test and learn about the unique tabs and capabilities of the program with which you're working to find out how to navigate it properly.

  • Use the "Help" tab. If you're finding it challenging to learn how to find and replace text in your document or use any other feature or keyboard shortcut, consider exploring the "Help" tab on your program. You can almost always find this tab, often symbolized by a question mark, to explore various app-specific instructions and gain foundational knowledge about how to use the software efficiently.

  • Consider using the "Search" function. On most applications and software, you can find a "Search" function, typically represented by a magnifying glass icon, that allows you to search a keyword or phrase and find iterations of that word or phrase throughout your text. This can be helpful when you're uncertain about exactly which word or phrase you're seeking and want to search for a generic term or concept.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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