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Is it possible to use Word's find / replace to find superscripts that are at the beginning of lines? I've got complex units (e.g. cm s-1) in a long document and sometimes the -1 is wrapped onto a new line - I'd like to find anywhere this happens.

I've tried using ^p in the find box (along with setting the font to subscript), but this doesn't find these cases.

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But I specifically only want to find them when they're at the beginning of a line... –  ChrisW Apr 4 '13 at 18:51

2 Answers 2

If you’re talking about line breaks that are created automatically by Word as part of the text justification process (i.e., because the text reached the right margin), then I doubt that this will be possible.  But I suspect that this isn’t really your problem; I suspect that your problem is

How do I get expressions containing minus signs, including superscripted ones, e.g.,

The quick brown fox jumps at 10 cm s-1 over the lazy dog.

not to break at the right margin, as if the minus sign were a hyphen:

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah  …  The quick brown fox jumps at 10 cm s-
1 over the lazy dog. ?

and, if that’s your problem, then see Preventing line breaks in superscript.  Specifically, I recommend the Ctrl+Shift+- answer.  If you have a large document, you’ll probably want to do a “Find and Replace”, replacing superscripted hyphens with non-breaking hyphens (using the ^~ code):
            “Find and Replace” dialog box

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As you've probably already realised, that was also my question! The answers to that were good, but I need to find out where it's happening before I can fix them :) doing it manually (searching for all superscripts) in a 80,000 word document is tedious. –  ChrisW Apr 4 '13 at 18:59

You can use regular expressions to help you find hyphens that should be minus signs. In the Find/Replace dialog box, open the More options and enable Use Wildcards. The pattern -[ 0-9] will find hyphens followed by a digit or space. The vast majority of those should be written with a minus sign (for negative numbers) or en-dash (for dates and numeric ranges). For more information on Word regular expressions, see the Office.com help article.

It's a good idea to fix all hyphen errors and not just the ones that are currently wrapped incorrectly. Line breaks change often, and a hyphen that looks OK today might break tomorrow. Also, proper minus signs and dashes look different from hyphens, and sophisticated readers can tell the difference. A non-breaking hyphen will fix the line wrap, but it's still the wrong size and height for a minus sign. An en-dash will generally have the opposite problem: looks right, wraps wrong.

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