How to Use Advanced Search Options in Word 2008 for Mac

By Bob LeVitus

In Word 2008 for Mac, you can save time and effort by using the advanced search options in the Find and Replace dialog. You can search for capitalization, characters, homonyms, and more. These options appear when you click the little blue triangle in the lower-left corner.


Choose Edit→Find to open the Find and Replace dialog. Here’s the criteria you can use for any find or replace operation:

  • Match Case: Makes the find and replace operation case-sensitive. So, for example, if you search for the word “rat” and replace it with the word “rodent,” any time “Rat” is the first word in a sentence, it’s replaced with “Rodent,” rather than “rodent.”

  • Find Whole Words Only: Finds only whole words. So, for example, if you enable this option, then search for “do” and replace it with “perform,” it wouldn’t change words that contain the word “do,” such as “dog,” “donut,” or “domestic.” With this option unchecked, the first two letters in each of those words would have been replaced with “perform,” so they’d read, “performg,” “performnut,” and “performmestic.”

  • Use Wildcards: Lets you choose wildcard items, such as Any Character, from the Special menu near the bottom of the dialog.

  • Sounds Like: Lets you search for homonyms. So, searching for “so” with this option enabled would also find “sew” and “sow.”

  • Find All Word Forms: Finds all forms of the word you search for. So, for example, if you enable this option, then search for “show” and replace it “display,” it would find “showed,” “showing,” and “shows,” and replace them with “displayed,” “displaying,” and “displays,” respectively.

You can fine tune your search or replace operation even further with choices from the Format or Special menus. In the Format menu, you can specify font, paragraph, highlight, style, language, and more attributes that you want to either search for or use in your replacement text. And the Special menu lets you search for invisible attributes, such as tab and paragraph marks, column and page breaks, and more.