Advanced Find and Replace Wildcard Characters (Word 2007-2013 Training)

Advanced Find and Replace Wildcard Characters (Word 2007-2013 Training)

Wildcard character reference

The following table lists and describes the wildcard characters that are available for use in Word. Keep one fact in mind as you go: Wildcard characters become more powerful when you combine them.

To find this Type this character Examples
Any single character ? s?t finds “sat” and “set.” This character also finds the chosen combination of characters within a word. For example, it could locate “set” within “inset.”
Any string of characters * s*d finds “sad” and “started.” The asterisk returns all characters and spaces that lie between the literal characters. For example, use the s*t expression to search for the phrase “analysis system.” The following images show you the matches that search highlights:

  • The first text string found by the wildcard search
  • The second string of text found by the wildcard search
  • The final string of text found by the wildcard search
  • A pattern found by a regular expression

Notice that the asterisk returns st as a match. That is default behavior. Word does not limit the number of characters that the asterisk can match, and it does not require that characters or spaces reside between the literal characters that you use with the asterisk. So, be careful when using the asterisk, because it can return a lot of unwanted results.

The beginning of a word < <(inter) finds all the words that start with “inter,” such as “interesting” and “intercept,” but not “splintered.”
The end of a word > (in)> finds all the words that end with “in,” such as “in” and “within,” but not “interesting.”
One or more specified characters [ ] w[io]n finds “win” and “won” but not “worn,” because the “r” is not specified.

Always use brackets in pairs. If you use an opening bracket, you also use the closing bracket.

Any single character in a given range of characters [x-z] [r-t]ight finds “right” and “sight.” The ranges you specify must be in ascending order. In other words, you can specify [a-m], but not [m-a].
Any single character except the characters in the range inside the brackets [!x-z] t[!a-m]ck finds “tock” and “tuck,” but not “tack” or “tick.”
Exactly n occurrences of the previous character or expression {n} fe{2}d finds “feed” but not “fed.” f[a-z]{2}d finds “find,” “feed,” and “food,” but not “fed.”
f([a-z]){2}d finds “feed” and “food,” but not “find” or “fed.”

Always use braces in pairs. If you use an opening brace, you also use the closing brace.

At least n occurrences of the previous character or expression {n,} fe{1,}d finds “fed” and “feed.”
From n to m occurrences of the previous character or expression {n,m} 10{1,3} finds “10,” “100,” and “1000.”
One or more occurrences of the previous character or expression @ lo@t finds “lot” and “loot.”
Any wildcard character \wildcard_character [\?] finds all question mark wildcard characters, [\*] finds all asterisk wildcard characters, and so on.
To group characters and establish orders of evaluation () Use parentheses (also called round brackets) to create complex regular expressions. The example earlier in this column, and the reference article Putting regular expressions to work in Word, demonstrate some of the ways you can use parentheses.