Checking for errors and editing your document is part of the writing process. One of the most common mistakes people make in MS Word and Google Docs is typing the wrong spelling. If you want to edit a word or a phrase in your document, you must first search for it.  

This post will teach you how to find and replace words in MS Word and Google Docs. It will also cover both the desktop and mobile versions of these programs.  

Table of Contents

    Replacing Words in MS Word (Desktop)

    1. Open Microsoft Word document on your computer. Press the Ctrl + H keys or click Home, then go to Replace
    2. Enter the word or phrase that needs to be changed on the Find box to locate them. 
    1. Delete the words you want to change and type in their replacement. You can also select one of the words or phrases using the Next and Previous buttons.
    2. Click Replace All to update all the words or phrases you typed on the Find box at once. 
    1. Click Save to keep the changes you have made

    Note: MS Word will help you recover changes to a file or recover unsaved documents if your PC crashes.

    The newest version of MS Word also has several other search options you can use to refine your searches further.

    • Choose Match case if you want to find the word or phrase with the exact lowercase and uppercase.  
    • Tick Find whole words only to search for entire words that match text starting and ending with whitespace. 
    • Select Use wildcards if you want to find a character or short string of characters in a search. 
    • Tick Sounds like (English) if you want to include words that have a similar sound to the word you are searching for. (for example, dough and though)
    • Choose Find all word forms (English) to search using a grammar-based lexicon. When searching for words like “is,” it will also show “are,” “we,” “were,” etc. 
    • Tick Match prefix if you want to search words that begin with the exact search string. Hence, if you search for “pre,” some of the results you might get are “prepare” and “present.”
    • On the other hand, selecting Match suffix will search words that end with the exact search string. For example, if you search for “ion,” some of the results Word highlights will include “motion” and “position.”
    • Select Ignore punctuation characters if you want to search for words that may have punctuation marks without typing the same characters. Punctuation characters are exclamation points, braces, comma, a hyphen, apostrophes, etc. 
    • Choose Ignore whitespace characters if the document contains white space characters such as the tab, a nonbreaking space, and hard-line break.  

    Find and Replace Words in MS Word (Mobile)

    1. Tap the MS Word app on your Android device and open the document you want to edit. 
    1. Tap the Magnifying glass icon on the upper part of your screen to open the Find… panel. 
    1. Type the word or phrase on the Find box that you want to change to locate them on the document. 
    2. You can also tap the Previous and Next arrows to navigate the other locations of the word or phrase. 
    3. To replace a word or phrase, tap the Settings button (gear icon). Tick the Replace box that appears at the bottom of the document.  
    1. Type in the word or phrase you want as a replacement on the Replace… box on the upper portion of the screen. 
    1. Tap Replace if you want to edit only the highlighted word or phrase. You can also replace all the instances of the word or phrase in the document by tapping All
    2. Tapping on the X button icon will close the Find panel. 

    The MS Word app also has additional Find Options, which gives you more editing features. Below are some of the things you can do using these functions:

    • Ticking the Match Case option will search only text with the exact uppercase and lowercase of the word or phrase you typed in the box. 
    • Selecting Sounds like (English) will only search terms similarly sounding with the text you typed in the box. For example, if you type “to,” it will also highlight “too” and “two.”

    Find and Replace Words in Google Docs (Browser)

    1. Open Google Docs on any browser. 
    2. Press the Ctrl + H key. This command will open a Find and replace tab.
    1. Type the word you want to search for in the Find box. Tick Match case if the word is capitalized or is an acronym. 
    1. You can also tick Match using regular expressions for searching regular expression patterns that the engine tries to match in the input text. Meanwhile, Ignore Latin Diacritics will disregard special characters like Umlaut (Ä, which equals A). 
    1. Type the replacement word in the Replace with box. 
    1. Click Replace all if you want to change all of the said words. Use Previous and Next to locate the specific word. If you’re going to replace only that word, click Replace

    Find and Replace Words in Google Docs (Mobile)

    1. Tap the Google Docs app and open the document you want to edit. 
    2. Tap the three dots icon (). Then, tap Find and replace
    1. Type the word you wish to modify. Double-check its spelling. 
    2. Tap Search. If you want to search the words with exact upper and lower cases, tick Match case. If you’re looking for regular expression patterns that the engine tries to match in the input text, tick Match using regular expressions.
    1. Now, you can view the instances of the word on the top right of the screen. To switch between the words, tap the Previous and Next arrows. 
    1. Type the word you want as a replacement. If you want to change the highlighted word, tap Replace. To change all instances of the word, tap Replace all

    How’s Your Wordsmithing? 

    Finding and replacing words in MS Word and Google Docs is easy to do, especially once you get the hang of it. You can also use different search options to ensure that you won’t miss any word that you want to edit.