How to Replace Double Spaces with Single Spaces and Work Find and Replace Like a Ninja [MS Word 2013]

Growing up, I was taught to hit the space bar twice after every period. My teacher was a matronly woman who grew up in the days of typing schools – her method involved us sitting at a desk with a frightening curtained box over our hands… in the fourth grade.

I owe Mrs. Strom a lot. By the time I reached the sixth grade, I could touch type pretty damned fast – not as fast as I type now, but fast enough that my handwriting really suffered. Anyway, I digress. We are talking about that double space, which I believe has something to do with typewriters. At any rate, a lot of older authors do it and from time to time I have the annoying task of sorting through a paper that has one too many spaces after every period.

In the old days you could do a search and replace but it was complicated and involved the use of the caret (^). These days Find and Replace actually recognizes spaces in the search window, so all you have to do is to enter two spaces as your Find string and one space as your Replace string and hit Replace All. To tell the truth, I don’t know how long ago Microsoft made this change, but I am grateful that they did and am happy that I stumbled upon it.

Problem solved – but let’s give credit where credit is due, the caret is still a remarkably useful little character that lets you make short work of a lot of Find and Replace-related tasks. If you are planning on writing a book or a thesis any time soon, then it would be well worth your time committing some of the special characters that MS Word recognizes to memory, or at the very least printing a list of them out to keep next to your computer.

Microsoft was kind enough to provide just such a list. If you routinely deal with huge document files, it can save you a lot of time. My personal favorite ^c in the replace box. It replaces your Find string with whatever is on the clipboard.

“Find what” Box Only

Character String
^1 or ^g Picture (inline pictures only)
^2, ^f (footnote), or ^e (endnote) Auto-referenced footnotes or endnotes
^5 or ^a Annotation/comment mark
^19 or ^d Opening field brace (Use only when you are viewing field codes.) (Selects whole field, not just opening brace.)
^21 or ^d Closing field brace (Use only when you are viewing field codes.) (Selects whole field, not just closing brace.)
^? Any single character
^# Any digit
^$ Any letter
^u8195 Em space Unicode character value search
^u8194 En space Unicode character value search
^b Section break
^w White space (space, nonbreaking space, tab)
^unnnn Word 2000 Unicode character search, where “n” is a decimal number corresponding to the Unicode character value

“Replace with” Box Only

The following characters can only be used in the Replace with box. Other characters that be used in the Replace with box are listed in the “Both ‘Find what’ and ‘Replace with’ boxes” section of this article.

Character String
^& Contents of the “Find what” box
^c Replace with the Clipboard contents

Both “Find what” and “Replace with” Boxes

The following characters can be used in both the Find what and Replace with boxes. Other characters that be used in either the Find what box or the Replace with box are listed in the “‘Find what’ Box Only” and “‘Replace with’ Box Only” sections of this article.

Character String
^9 or ^t Tab
^11 or ^l New line
^12 Page or section break (Replaces a section break with a page break)
^13 or ^p Carriage return/paragraph mark
^14 or ^n Column break
? Question mark
^- Optional hyphen
^~ Nonbreaking hyphen
^^ Caret character
^+ Em dash
^= En dash
^m Manual page break
^s Nonbreaking space
^nnn Where “n” is an ASCII character number
^0nnn Where “n” is an ANSI character number

About the author: C. S. Magor


C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and reporter at large for Uberreview and We Interrupt. He currently resides in a sleepy basin town in the Japanese countryside - where both his bank balance and the lack of space in his home are testament to his addiction to all things shiny.

Follow @csmagor on Twitter



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