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Suppose I'm searching/replacing the "0 or more characters" wildcard (*) in Word (in my case, Word 2010). I want to replace that * wildcard with the exact same text in each instance, but with modified formatting.

For example, if I want to bold a list of numbers that originally have the format "1)", "2)",...."100)":

Find what: *\)

  • (Use wildcards box is checked, No formatting selected)

Replace with: ________ ???

  • (Use wildcards box is checked,Formatting set as BOLD)

What do I place in the "Replace with" box?

I've seen instances (e.g., here and here) in which multiple wildcards or Find objects are used. They suggest using the "\1", "\2", etc. wildcards in the replace line to replace the first, second etc part of the Find object list.

However, when I only have one wildcard component (in this case, *), the "\1" approach does not work.

So how, then, do I go about approaching this formatting change in Word?

  • You wrote "I want to replace that * wildcard with the exact same text in each instance, but with modified formatting" - does this mean you want only the number to be bold, leaving the ) unchanged? – Atzmon Oct 31 '16 at 20:26
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You don't need the \1 if you are just updating formatting - in the Replace with box just ensure it's empty (ie no space) and press ctrl B to see Font: Bold as the Format option to apply.

Alternatively, enclose your Find What in () and then the \1 will work in your replace.

Note if you want to limit your search to just numbers before a closing bracket, modify your Find What to: ([0-9]@)) - this will find any number of digits before a closing bracket (ie won't pick up text that the wildcard * would find).

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