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Barry MacDonnell's
Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
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Page updated Feb 22, 2019

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How to efficiently use "Find:" in the Edit, Find and Replace (F&R) dialog

Find and Replace dialog

Related pages -

Enhancing the Find and Replace feature

Using Windows or QuickFinder to search inside other WordPerfect files (.wpd, .wpt, .wcm) on your system

- Replace multiple words in one pass

DELCODES - Delete multiple specified format codes in one pass (related macros can delete extra adjacent hard returns and/or delete "empty" paired codes ("orphaned" codes))

REPLACE CODES - Change, replace, or enhance any of several text attributes (bold, italics, underline, etc.), font types, or font sizes in one operation (optionally pausing for confirmation at each item found)

Starting and repeating a Find operation

Method A. Type or insert the item into the Find and Replace dialog.

Most often you probably just type a word or phrase into the (Edit, Find and Replace) "Find:" field, (possibly) make various selections from the Find and Replace dialog's menu [also see other Tips below], then either search for the item with one of the Find buttons or replace the item in the document with whatever you typed into the "Replace with:" field.

You can also find, add, or replace format codes using the Find and Replace dialog's menu Match, Codes and/or Replace, Codes choices to insert the code in the "Find:" or "Replace with:" fields. You might have to scroll down the list(s) to find some codes. Note that you must have Reveal Codes open (on the View menu) to search for format codes. [See Tips below for some limitations when searching for format codes. Since some format codes are paired codes, also see the DELCODES and REPLACE CODES links in the left sidebar, which can make it easier to deal with paired codes.]

Method B. Select the item in the document to automatically insert it in the dialog (or to copy it there).

You can first select the words and/or format codes in the document, then bring up the F&R dialog (Edit, Find and Replace or Ctrl+F), and the words (and/or codes) will be automatically entered in the "Find:" field;


Alternatively, you can select the items -- including any embedded symbols or codes -- then copy the selection to the clipboard (Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert) and paste the items (Ctrl+V or Shift+Insert) from the document directly into the "Find:" field.


☼  If you have already searched for items they will appear in the "Find:" field's drop list so that you can click on them to use them again.

- Either use the down arrow at the right side of the field or scroll the recent list with the keyboard's down arrow when the cursor is inside the field.

- You can even copy an item in either field ("Find:" or "Replace with:") with Ctrl+C and then paste it into the other field with Ctrl+V. (You can also cut it from the field with Ctrl+X.)

- Be sure to view the section "Other tips and caveats" below which has more information on the Find and Replace dialog's menu.

☼ Especially useful when selecting format codes in the document: Use Shift+Arrow to select ("paint") the items in the document text while observing them in Reveal Codes.

☼ To quickly and efficiently repeat a Find operation (and see some other tips): Enhancing the Find and Replace feature.

☼ In most cases, the alternative Method B above will not present any problems, but see below for more information.

Search inside other documents: You can use Windows or Wordperfect Office's QuickFinder (if installed with WordPerfect Office) to search inside other WordPerfect files (.wpd, .wpt, .wcm) on your system: See here.

Keep it short!

As with manually typing words into the F&R fields, pre-selecting words, or copying a selection and then pasting it into the field is limited by the program to just 79 characters and spaces.

If your intent is to search for a selection of text in the document that is longer than 79 characters/spaces, this can present problems. (Not to mention that it probably is unnecessary to use such long strings in a simple find operation!)

The "disappearing text" effect

One issue with a long selection of text is that if it has more than 79 characters WordPerfect will simply ignore it and not put it in the Find field. This might cause you to wonder why the F&R feature didn't work when it worked in the past (but with shorter selections).

The reason WordPerfect ignores such larger blocks of selected material is that it assumes you want to search in the selection, not search for the selection. In fact, it will enable "Search in Selection" in the F&R Options menu. It then waits for you to type something in the Find field (it may already have placed the previous search material there).

This is "working as designed," and it might be what you want to do some of the time. Just be aware of what WordPerfect assumes you want to do depending on the size of your selection of material. To search for words in the document, keep the selection short. Otherwise,WordPerfect will set things up to search inside the selection for whatever you type in the Find field.

The "truncation effect"

Another issue: "Characters" in the context of selecting material also means WordPerfect symbols (accessed with Insert, Symbol or <Ctrl+w>) and format codes (Bold, Italics, etc.). So if you copy a short selected block of text that contains these codes, these items are counted toward the 79 "character" limit when you paste them into the Find field (or let WordPerfect automatically insert them in the Find field with alternative #1 above).

Therefore, the block of text might become truncated (cut off at the end) in the Find field. Since the F&R field is relatively small, you might not notice this with a long sentence, and therefore you might not replace what you expect to replace when your click Replace or Replace All.

Moreover, as with merely selecting large blocks of text, copying and pasting a selection larger that 79 characters/codes also causes WordPerfect to enable "Search in Selection" in the F&R Options menu. This is probably not what you want.

Again, it is best to keep your selections short unless you really intend to search inside the selection itself.

[Incidentally, finding and replacing large blocks of text in often-used documents can be done with text variables.]

An alternative

One way to work around the truncation effect problem (other than to remember to keep selections shorter than 79 characters/codes) is to first paste the copied selection elsewhere in the document (or in a blank document) without any format codes by using Edit, Paste Special, Unformatted text (see here for more). Then re-select and re-copy the item, then paste the now unformatted version into the Find field. Again, this might only be needed for sentences that approach 79 characters -- counting any embedded codes.

What about macro searches?

Note that macro search routines are also limited to 79 characters in a SearchString() command; however, storing a selection of text in a macro variable automatically strips out any format codes. The Search (and Replace, if used) operation will succeed since it looks for only the characters and spaces -- up to the 79 character limit, of course.

See Footnote 1 below for a code snippet to test for the length of a selected string.

Other tips and caveats

☼  The Find and Replace dialog has its own menu:

Find and Replace dialog

•  The Help menu choice on that dialog offers some basic information about finding and/or replacing text, specific fonts, case-specific words, whole/partial words, etc. [To find and replace specific font types, font sizes, or text attributes (bold, italics, etc.) see more tips below.]

•  The Type menu's default is "Text" but you can also search for Word Forms or even certain Specific Codes, such as a specific left margin setting of 1.75" or a font type (see below).

•  In the Match menu -

¤  Note that Match, "Whole Words," if left disabled (un-ticked), is the normal default for the current operation.

Example: If left disabled you can find both "Word" and "WordPerfect" if you search for "Word". If you enable (tick) it you can find just "Word". (Don't assume it will be left enabled for subsequent searches during the current session since the program usually will return it to the normal default as soon as you exit the F&R dialog.)

¤  When the cursor is in the "Find:" field you can use the Match, "Codes" option to insert various format codes in the field by choosing them from the Codes list.

Similarly, when the cursor is in the "Replace with:" field you can use Replace, "Codes".


▸ To find or replace normal tabs, insert the Left Tab code.

To find or replace hard returns or page breaks, insert the HRt or HPg code, respectively.

▸ To find a word or phrase and add a text attribute (see under Format> Font> Appearance) such as bold, italics, Redline, etc., to one or all such items in the document, see Footnote 2 below.


☼  The Codes dialog has lots of codes so you may need to scroll down to locate the one you need (e.g., Left Tab].

An alternative is to select and copy a code from the document (in Reveal Codes) to place it into a F&R field.

☼  To remove individual codes or several codes at once throughout a document with a mouse click, see DelCodes in the Library.

•  In the Action menu -

You can set the search to "Select Match" to select ("highlight") the item when it is found. This is the normal default setting.

You can set the search to have the cursor stop Before or After the found item.

If you use "Extend Selection," WordPerfect will select everything from the current cursor position up to and including the found item. (If the text is still selected when you dismiss Find and Replace, you can keep it selected while adjusting the amount of text it includes by using the Shift+arrow keys.)

Important: As noted, "Match Selection" is the normal default for the Action menu, so always enable it after using other options. Otherwise, your next search might not be conducted the way you want or it may appear to fail because the item was not selected. (See next tip about "sticky" options.)

•  In the Options menu -

The normal default is to enable "Include Headers, Footers, etc., in Find" since most users want to conduct global searches most of the time. You can disable it to conduct searches that are restricted to just the document's body text. (See next tip about "sticky" options.)

To restrict a search to a section of text, just select that section before using Find and Replace. When the F&R dialog opens, use the Options menu to choose "Limit Find Within Selection".

For example, to search ONLY for items in a table:

1. Put the cursor in the table.
2. Use Edit, Select, Select Table to select that table.
3. Use Edit, Find and Replace to open the F&R dialog.
4. On the menu at the top of the dialog, use Options and enable (tick) "Limit Find Within Selection".
5. In the Find field, type or paste the item you want to find.
6. Use Find Next (etc.).
When the program has finished searching that table it will pop a "Not Found" message.

•  Also see the related tips and solutions here about using macros that contain search routines: you can force them to reset Find and Replace options to their defaults before such macros finish playing.)

☼  Many Find and Replace options are "sticky" (even if for only the current session). You might need to set new options and do a find and replace to make the options take effect. Alternatively, you can play the macro here to reset these options to the factory default each time you play it (you can even assign it to the F2 key for more convenient use of Find and Replace).

☼  If you are using the default WordPerfect keyboard (i.e., the <WPWin Keyboard> in Tools, Settings, Customize, Keyboards tab), you can select a word (or just place your cursor on the word), or select a short block of text (less than 79 characters), then click Ctrl+Alt+N to jump to the next instance of that word without opening the Find and Replace dialog. Ctrl+Alt+P takes you to the previous instance. [You can also assign these features, QuickFind Next Current Word and QuickFind Previous Current Word (see under the Edit category in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog), to the <WPDOS Keyboard>.]

☼  You can search for, and/or replace, WordPrefect symbols. [To search for format codes, see above.] When the cursor is inside either field, press Ctrl+W to choose a symbol, then click Insert and Close. If you choose <Nothing> in the Replace field, all instances of the symbol will be deleted with Replace All.

☼  You cannot use Find and Replace to find codes when they are inside certain other codes -- such as inside a [Style] code (e.g., the initial [Open Style] code in a document or template) or inside text variables (a form of style). You also cannot use Find and Replace to find codes inside a [Delay] code. These are limitations of the program, at least for recent versions of it. Solution: You will have to edit the [Style] or [Delay] code by double-clicking on the code in Reveal Codes to edit it.

☼  Finding words containing hyphens: When you use Find and Replace to locate a hyphenated word or number, you must use the same type of hyphen in the Find and Replace fields as exists in the item to be searched in the document. Hence, to find a regular hyphen, the item must contain regular hyphens (i.e., codes). To find hard hyphens, the item must contain hard hyphens (which are characters, not codes).

☼  To replace multiple instances of one font type with another font type: With the cursor at the very top of the document, invoke Find and Replace. Click the "Type" menu at the top of the F&R dialog box, then click "Specific Codes." In the sub-dialog that appears, click "Font," then "OK." You should be able to use pull-down menus to instruct WP to replace [the first font] with [the second font] or, if desired, you can enable "Replace with Nothing" to delete those specific codes. Be sure to repeat the process at least once, since it sometimes misses a few instances on the first pass.

☼  To replace multiple instances of one font size with another font size, or remove a specified font size in the document, see (e.g.) the macro Replace font size via menu.wcm by Ron Hirsch on the Other Authors page here.

☼  To replace (change) one type of text attribute (e.g., bold, underline, italics, large size, redline, etc.) with another, it is much easier to use a macro for that purpose rather than using Find and Replace.

See Ron Hirsch's Replace Codes - Plus macro on the Other Authors page. It can also process highlighting, remove the underlying text, or even change a given attribute to a WordPerfect style.

A "lite" (simpler) version of his macro is also available: see Replace Codes.wcm in the main Library. Unlike Ron's macro, it does not process highlighting or style codes, and it cannot remove underlying text — though it can process relative size text attributes (Fine through Extra Large).

Both macros can pause at each item found to allow you to confirm the change or removal.

☼  To swap one item (e.g., "Party 1") for another item (e.g., "Party 2") throughout the document, there's a little trick on the REPLACEM macro page (here) called the A-B-C Word Triangle. Or use the REPLACEM macro to do the job with any list of text items and their replacements.

☼  To ignore (i.e., protect) certain specified items in a Find and Replace operation (here, by using a somewhat similar technique to the "swap" trick just above):

1. Use Find and Replace to convert the items you want to ignore into a short nonsense string not used elsewhere in the document (e.g., !@#$% or a string such as ABCXYZ) in order to temporarily "hide" them from the program in the next step.

2. Process the document as desired (e.g., another find/replace, an add/change format, etc.).

3. Convert the nonsense strings back into the original items by simply reversing the find/replace order of processing in step 1.

Footnote 1

For macro writers:

One way to alert the user of a macro that searches for selected text that the selection is too long is to use something like the following snippet in the macro's code after the point where some text has been selected:

  Messagebox(;"Caution - item exceeds 79 characters"; "The item"
  +NToC(0F90Ah)+?SelectedText+NToC(0F90Ah)+"is too long.")

Footnote 2

[For all users: Continued from above...]

Here's an example of using Edit, Find and Replace to add a text attribute to a word that is found anywhere in the current document. In this example it's the Redline attribute.

Obviously ... always back up the document first.

[For macros that can do this to multiple different words see the Footnote at the bottom of the ReplaceM macro page here.]

[1] Open Edit, Find and Replace. Enter the word in the Find field (e.g., Shakespeare -- assuming it is in the document).

▸  In the Match menu on that F&R dialog, you can optionally choose to find Whole words, and/or have the search be Case sensitive. [NOTE: Choosing Whole Words means the program looks only for (in our example) Shakespeare and will not find Shakespeare's.]

▸  In the Action menu choose Select Match.

▸  In the Options menu you can begin the find at the top of the document, and/or include Headers and Footers.

[2] With the cursor in the Replace Field, click the Replace menu choice on that dialog, and choose Codes.

▸  In the Codes list that appears, scroll down to [Redln On] and choose it. Then click Insert; a code will apepar in the Replace field.

▸  Then type the word you are searching (e.g., Shakespeare).

▸  Then use the Codes button's list to insert the [Redln Off] code. Finally, close the Codes dialog list with its Close button.

[3] You should now have three items in the Replace field -- your replacement text surrounded by a pair of On/Off format codes:

Find and Replace with Redline

[4] In the Find and Replace dialog click Replace for just the next item or click Replace All for a global replace in that document.


Swapping the contents of the Find and Replace fields later is one way of removing any Redline you applied to just the searched words. (Just select, copy, and paste from one field to the other field.)

Another way is to search -- preferably individually -- for just the [Redln On] (or just the [Redln Off] code and replace it with <Nothing>. This deletes both parts of such a paired code [see Reveal Codes for more on paired codes]. The Replace Codes macro mentioned above can do this, too.

[Originally posted on WordPerfect Universe here.]