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Tip Tuesday #34

Today's handy tip comes from Rachael who blogs at Writer's Chasm.  Please visit her blog on your way out!

Everyone has that one word or phrase that they use ALL the time. Mine are 'within minutes' and 'so' among other things. Then there are those garbage words like 'just' and 'then' and 'very.' There are whole lists of words to go through your manuscript and look for. But going through the whole thing with Find to look for each individual word is an extreme hassle. So I found a faster way.

NOTE: This works for Word 2007. If you have an earlier version, then I'm sure there's a way to do it, I'm just not sure of the specifics.

Go to Find and Replace.

Type the word you're looking for into the Find and the Replace boxes.

Click on 'More >>.' Go down to Format, click on it, and then click Highlight.

Hit Replace All.

Now all of the times you use that word are highlighted! You can do this with each word or phrase and then just scroll down the MS and look for all the highlight marks at the same time.

I love this tip, Rachael!  I didn't know there was a way to "find and highlight" rather than just replace.  That does make things simpler. Thank you! 


  1. I do this! She's correct. It works like a charm, and if you're anything like me you'll be shocked at how repetitive you (I) are. ";-)

  2. Great tip, Rachael! Thanks for posting it Casey. I'm going to do this during my final read through!

  3. Great Tip.

    I think w/Word 2007 you can also do the commands for bold and italics when putting the word in the replace field. I did this when searching for pesky words. It came in pretty handy.

  4. I'm always looking for ways to get rid of those repetitive words. I'm looking forward to trying this one!

  5. Yes! All those words muck it up!

  6. I had no idea you could do that and have been using the Find option which is tedious. 'Just' and 'still' kill me - I took about 50 of them last night!

  7. Great advice, this is much more useful than actually JUST deleting them all because of course less is more with these kinds of words, but still, each instance should be considered individually, even if only for a moment.

    Thanks for sharing Casey and for the tip Rachael.

  8. Yes! I don't know what I'd do without that feature.

    I also use it to find my "I thought, I noticed, I saw," etc.

    Great tool! :)

  9. I had to do this for emotions. You don't want to know how many times I referred to the circulatory or respiratory systems in my wip. ;)

  10. I just tried it with Word 2000 and it works the same way. Very cool tip.

  11. No matter what your platform, if it has both a search and replace function and spellcheck, you can globally replace "within minutes" (or whatever) with "withix minutex" (or whatever). Assuming you haven't tweaked your custom dictionary to include "withix" and "minutex," you can now scroll through your document and look for squigglies. (Of which there are very many in this comment!)

  12. This is hilarious -- I mean scary. I just discovered this in going through my own garbage words (went, felt, saw, looked, through, were, was, etc.)

    Scary to see all those yellow flags staring at you from what had seemed to be a nice tight draft.

    Grist for the mill!

  13. Excellent tip! Once I figured out how to search for formatting, my life has been amazing. :)

  14. Great tip. I have cut a ton of words by searching for the repetitive ones. I have a list of about 50. On my new manuscript, I'm going to search as I work on the individual chapters. It's hard to search through a whole book. Having the words highlighted would even be better.

  15. Wow! I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for the tip! :-)

  16. I'm with you, Casey: I never knew you could highlight instead of replacing. Thanks to Rachel for this great tip.

  17. Another great post--I haven't tried this trick, but I definitely will. Another one I like is using Wordle to find the words I don't even know I'm overusing:

  18. omg, genius! i had no idea!! thanks so much for another amazing tip, bestie. you rock.

  19. Thank you for all the great comments, everyone. It looks like Rachael's tip is a popular one. Love it!

  20. Oh, very cool tip! I'll have to jot this one down for future use. Absolutely brilliant.

  21. Completely mesmerized by how it works. Thanks for the tip!

  22. I just tried this on my Word for Mac version, and it really is amazing! Thanks Casey and Rachael for this 'keeper' tip! For all you Mac users, the steps are even simpler: Find and Replace, type in the word, then check the box 'Highlight all items found in main doc', then click Find All. Done! It even tells you how many it found. Now, I did find one flaw in this - if anyone knows a solution please share! As you scroll through your ms, if you edit, Word closes out of this feature, and you have to start a new 'find and replace' all over again to keep going. I have to believe there's a way to 'resume search' without having to start a new search again, but I can't see it.

  23. Thanks everyone! I'm glad it was of help =D I spent three hours doing in the old-fashioned way before I found this one and I wanted to share.

  24. Great tip! I've learned to keep a list of these words and scan for them at the end of a draft. It's amazing how they creep in.