Please welcome Terry Odell, our regular 3rd. Tuesday guest blogger. She has some good tips about using the Find/Replace function in Word. Thanks Terry.
The theme this month here at the Blood Red Pencil is technology. Anyone trying to become a writer these days has to accept that learning to use a computer is part of the deal. Whether or not you prefer to write your manuscript longhand on legal tablets, eventually, you're going to have to get all those words entered into some word processing program.
I'm hardly a technology wizard. I can remember our first computer (An Apple II) and breaking out into a sweat any time I had to do anything other than type words. I knew I'd hit a wrong key and either lose everything or blow up the computer.
But as the industry standards change, we have to be willing to change with them. And once you're committed to using a word processor, you find that it does all sorts of nifty tricks. In fact, I have trouble writing with a pen these days. Where's cut/paste? (I literally used to cut and tape my term papers together, stretching them all over my college apartment.)
One very simple task your word processor can do for you is find all those repeated words, but have you ever looked at the entire menu? I know I was slow on the uptake.
I've had people tell me they did a find/replace when they changed a character name, not stopping to think that the character's name could also be part of other words. Frank, for example, can be a name or an adjective. Or, it's part of another word, such as frankly.
The solution? There are a number of nifty check boxes in find/replace. The first one is "match case" so if you're replacing Frank with Francis, you won't accidentally have a character speaking francisly.
The other is "find whole words only". When you check this box, it's only going to find the word Frank.
Another handy tool is the "find all word forms" check box. Let's say you use the word look too often. If you check this box, you'll also get looked, looking, and any other form of the word.
There's also the "format" option. If you click the drop down menu, you'll get options to change the font—which also gives you the option to change the text color. So, if you want to have all those "look" forms jump out at you, enter look in the find field. In the replace field, type look again, but now click the format box and click font. Then change the color to red. Hit replace all, and look out! You can use the highlight feature instead, and that will highlight all those instances. The best part is that when you're done, you can simply undo everything, unlike working on paper, where those highlights are there for good.
Or, let's say you've used a foreign word in your manuscript. You realize you haven't italicized it per your editor's requirement. You can follow the above steps, but in the replace field, you'll choose italics from the font menu under format.
But what if you've italicized things you don't want italicized, but you're not sure which words. How do you find them? Use the "special" menu (next to format) and in the find field, use the symbol for "any character" and in the format field, choose italics. Then, when you click find next, you'll be taken to any character in italics, and you can fix it from there.
Note: I use Word 2003, but I checked in Word 2007 and the screen looks about the same, so it should work in either program.
Hope this helped a little. Just don't ask me to use my smart phone!
Terry's short romances are published by The Wild Rose Press. You can find more about them HERE. She's also written two short mysteries, one of which is published by Highland Press in DECEPTION. You can find her at her Web site. If you've followed her blog (or want to start!), note that it's moved and is now HERE You can follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.
Posted by Maryann Miller who appreciates the tutorial on Find and Replace.