How to do 'find and replace' within currently selected text in Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac OSX

Learning Hadoop and Spark?

I've scoured the internet and I think this free Big Data course from UC San Diego is a great way to jump in. It's hosted on Coursera, so you can audit the course for free.

This keeps biting me, so I thought I’d write it down. It’s actually very simple, but Word tells you you’re not doing the right thing. Here goes.

Firstly, select some text you want to ‘find and replace’ within.

Then select Edit -> Find -> Advanced Find and Replace



You’re now greeted by the find window. Here you’ll see that it says you’re going to search within the ‘current selection’, that’s good! It’ll look like this (I’m going to replace tab characters with a single space):


Now here’s the unintuitive bit — click on the ‘replace’ tab. You’ll notice that there’s no mention that this will only apply to the current selection, but you’ll have to trust me.


Don’t press find next, or anything like that, click ‘replace all’, and it will do your find and replace in your current selection only (I promise!). Finally it will ask you if you want to do the rest of the document, simply click ‘no’ and you’re done.


Hope that helps someone, my wife and I found it very confusing.

Bonus tip - How to find and replace tab characters:

Check out my ‘replace’ dialog above, notice that I’m replacing a tab character? Well if you click the find box and press TAB it won’t enter the tab character, it will take you to the next box (oh no!).

The solution is to hold down ALT when you press tab, and it will insert the TAB character instead.

One Last Thing

If you find yourself spending hours formatting Microsoft Word documents, I can teach you to reduce that time to less than 5 minutes. If this sounds appealing, let me know here.

Matthew Rathbone's Picture

Matthew Rathbone

CEO of Beekeeper Data. British. Data Nerd. Lucky husband and father. More about me

Join the discussion