Using Find and Replace: A Quick MS Word Tip -->

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Using Find and Replace: A Quick MS Word Tip

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Tim McIndoo
By Tim McIndoo, Dissertation Editor

Let's say a writing tutor reviewed your work. One of the tips she mentioned was to italicize the titles of books within your paper. You--the ever-diligent student--want to make sure you catch every instance of those book titles and change them from regular type to italics. Here are the steps to use the Find and Replace function in MS Word.

1. Press Control H. The Find and Replace dialog box will appear with the Replace tab overlined in red.
2. In the Find What box, insert the word or phrase you want to italicize.
3. Leave the Replace With box blank, but be sure the cursor is blinking inside it.
4. Click on Format at the bottom of the dialog box and select Font.
5. Among the three tabs, Font should be overlined in red and there should be a blinking cursor in the Font box.
6. Click on Tab to move from the Font column to the next column, Font Style. Select Italic. At the bottom right of the box, click OK.
7. Now make sure that the Replace With box is still blank, but that below the box, the phrase “Font: Italic” appears.
8. Click on Find Next. When the next instance of the word or phrase appears, it will be highlighted. If it is an instance you want to change, click the Replace button. If you want to skip over it, click on Find Next.
9. Once you’ve changed all the instances you want, close the dialog box at the X in the upper right corner.

To change a word or phrase from italics to plain type, in Step 6, select Regular instead of italics.

Rather than click on Replace or Replace All right off the bat, it’s much safer to click on Find. That way, you can make sure that what the software finds is what you wanted found. (For some funny and disastrous results of Find and Replace gone astray, see this article.) Try a couple of instances first. If it’s working right, then go back to the start of your paper and select Find What again. The text you want to change should be highlighted. If so, click on Replace. The command will first change the type style of your selected text and then advance to the next instance, awaiting your command: Replace or Find Next.

Of course, this same great tool can work for other error corrections as well. Do you sometimes use three spaces between sentences? Use Find and Replace to make that just two spaces. 

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