How to Search for Special Characters in Word 2016

By Peter Weverka

The following table describes the special characters you can look for in Word 2016 documents. To look for the special characters listed in the table, enter the character directly in the text box or click the Special button in the Find and Replace dialog box, and then choose a special character from the pop-up list.

Be sure to enter lowercase letters. For example, you must enter ^n, not ^N, to look for a column break. Note: A caret (^) precedes special characters.

Special Characters for Searches
To Find/Replace Enter
Manual Formats That Users Insert
Column break ^n
Field ^d
Manual line break ^l
Manual page break ^m
No-width non break ^z
No-width optional break ^x
Paragraph break ^p
Section break ^b
Section character ^%
Tab space ^t
Punctuation Marks
1/4 em space ^q
Caret (^) ^^
Ellipsis ^i
Em dash (—) ^+
En dash (–) ^=
Full-width ellipses ^j
Nonbreaking hyphen ^~
Optional hyphen ^-
White space (one or more blank spaces)* ^w
Characters and Symbols
Foreign character You can type foreign characters in the Find What and Replace
With text boxes
ANSI and ASCII characters and symbols ^nnnn, where nnnn is the four-digit code
Any character ^?
Any digit ^#
Any letter ^$
Clipboard contents ^c
Contents of the Find What box ^&
Elements of Reports and Scholarly Papers
Endnote mark ^e
Footnote mark ^f
Graphic ^g

*For use in find operations only

Before searching for special characters, go to the Home tab and click the Show/Hide button. That way, you see special characters — also known as hidden format symbols — on-screen when Word finds them.

Creative people find many uses for special characters in searches. The easiest way to find section breaks, column breaks, and manual line breaks in a document is to enter ^b, ^n, or ^l, respectively, and start searching. By combining special characters with text, you can make find-and-replace operations more productive. For example, to replace all double hyphens (–) in a document with em dashes (—), enter in the Find What text box and ^m in the Replace With text box. This kind of find-and-replace operation is especially useful for cleaning documents that were created in another program and then imported into Word.