I need to search for a word within a certain number of words of another word. Is that possible in Microsoft Word?

For example,

word1 *3 word2
would return the results for 'word1' where it is 3 words away or less from 'word2'. If * was the desired proximity operator.

I use MS Word for the Mac 2011, but am curious if it is possible in any version.

2 Answers 2


It seems that you can use regular expressions to search in the newer versions of Word, see here. For some more information on how to get what you want using regular expressions:


  • Thanks, @PaulHiemstra! It's great to know it supports reg. exp. I will be using this for sure. I haven't figured out how to do proximity searches yet, as described in the question, but I'm on the right path.
    – Nelu
    May 21, 2013 at 16:16
  • 1
    Word has had regular expressions for a long time, but Word's regex dialect is now very old, bears little relationship to regex syntax as it has developed elsewhere, and suffers from some additional gotchas. So be careful!
    – user181946
    Oct 28, 2013 at 20:07

While still not available in Word's native functionality, I've created an addin for Word called Wordiscover that allows you to perform full regular expression find/replace, and proximity search.

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