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Sound Writing

Subsection 12.1.6 Finding and Replacing

This is an essential tool to know how to use when you are writing, editing, and revising drafts. For instance, you might use the term “third world” repeatedly throughout your essay but then realize that “Global South” is a more appropriate option. Finding and replacing makes it easy for you to search for all instances of “third world” and replace them with “Global South.”


Say you would like to find all instances in your paper where you use a certain word or phrase.
This image shows a screenshot of a word document with two paragraphs of text. The paragraphs are mostly made up of the word "paragraph" repeated, but the phrase "IMPORTANT WORD" is interspersed four times.
Simply highlight the word or phrase you want to find, open the “Home” tab, select the “Find” option on the far right of the toolbar (it is often accompanied by a magnifying glass), and select “Find” on the scroll-down menu.
This image shows the same document displayed above. The search bar in the upper right corner is emphasized, with a red box around it and a red arrow pointing to it. "IMPORTANT WORD" has been typed into the search bar, and this phrase is highlighted in yellow every place it appears in the body of the text.
This image shows the same document, but a drop-down menu has been opened below the search bar and the option "List Matches in Sidebar" is selected.
When you do this, all of the instances of the word or phrase are highlighted in the text and a navigation dialogue box will appear on the left-hand side of the screen displaying all instances of use. You can go to a certain instance by clicking on the text boxes under the “Results” column.
This image shows the same document, with every occurrence of "Important Word" highlighted in yellow. A toolbar titled "Find and Replace" is open on the left hand side of the screen, with the text "IMPORTANT WORD" entered in the search bar. Below the search bar is an empty gray bar that could be used for a replacement phrase. Below this bar is a list of every occurrence of "IMPORTANT WORD" in the text.


If you’d like to replace a word or phrase with another word or phrase, highlight the desired text you’d like to change, open the “Home” tab, and find the “Replace” option to the far left beneath “Find.” When you select “Replace,” a dialogue box will appear with the original text and give you the option to write in what you would like to replace it with. You may then hit “Replace” if you’d like to replace that one instance, “Replace All” if you’d like to replace all instances in your document, or “Find Next” to go through all instances until you find the one you want to replace.
In the left-hand panel, this image shows a screenshot of the "Find and Replace" bar from the previous image, but with "CRITICAL WORD" entered into the "replace" bubble. A red arrow points from this to the right-hand panel. The right panel is a screenshot of the word document shown above, except every instance of "IMPORTANT WORD" has been replaced with "CRITICAL WORD."
Here we replaced all “IMPORTANT WORD”s with “CRITICAL WORD”s, but keep in mind that it’s often better to use a mix of important AND critical words to enhance your vocab diversity. If you use the same important word in every single sentence, your paper will get really repetitive really quickly.