How to Use Wildcards to Replace Text in MS Word

In this tutorial, we look at how to use the wildcard option in the File and Replace menu to replace text in your MS Word documents.

Wildcards help you search for:

  • Variations of words
  • Multiple words at once
  • Similar groups of words.
  • Find specific letters
  • Search for text

For example, the asterisk (*) wildcard searches for a string of characters (for example, “f*g” finds “fog” and “frog”).

How to Use Wildcards to Replace Text in MS Word

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click the arrow next to Find, and then click Advanced Find.
  2. Select the Use wildcards check box
  3. Do one of the following:

To choose a wildcard character from a list, click Special, click a wildcard character, and then type any additional text in Find what.

Type a wildcard character directly in Find what.

If you want to replace the item, click the Replace tab, and then type what you want to use as a replacement in the Replace with box.

  1. Click Find Next, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.

MS Word Wildcard Cheatsheet

Use the following wildcard cheat sheet to refine your searches:

To find Use this For example
Any single character ? f?g finds “fog” and “fig.”
Any string of characters * f*g finds “fog” and “frog”
One of the specified characters [ ] r[eo]d finds “red” and “rod.”
Any single character in this range [-] [c-v]an finds “can” and “dan” and “van.”

Ranges must be in ascending order.

Any single character except the characters inside the brackets [!] st[!a]ck finds “stick” and “stuck” but not “stack.”
Any single character except characters in the range inside the brackets [!x-z] l[!a-m]ck finds “lock” and “luck” but not “lack” or “lick.”

Ranges must be in ascending order.

Exactly n occurrences of a character or expression n} fe{2}d finds “feed” but not “fed.”
At least n occurrences of a character or expression n,} fe{1,}d finds “fed” and “feed.”
A range of occurrences of a character or expression nn} 10{1,3} finds “10,” “100,” and “1000.”
One or more occurrences of a character or expression @ bo@t finds “bot” and “boot.”
The beginning of a word < <(inter) finds “interesting” and “intercept” but not “splintered.”
The end of a word > (in)> finds “in” and “within,” but not “interesting.”

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