Microsoft Word Searching Help

When editting a document, I wanted to remove everything in paranthesis, along with the paranthesis itself. In order to do this, of course, you turn on wildcards, but unfortunately, once I do, it interpets the paranthesis as a control thingie, and not as something to actually search for. How might I get around that?


That’s a toughie.

The only solution I can think of right off the bat is only any use if the text within the parentheses is really short – say, no more than 10 characters or so. Any longer than this and it becomes a pain in the ass.

Bring up the Replace window.

Under “find what”, enter (^?).

The ^? is a variable that will allow any character. The problem is that it only allows for one character at a time. You can’t tell it to search for any amount of text between the parentheses. The workaround is to use the ^? multiple times. Like this:


That will search out any sequence of 10 characters within parentheses. Then repeat the search with nine sets of ^?. Then 8. And so forth.

Cumbersome, yes, but it’s the only solution I know of.

I’ve just checked in Word 2003, and backslash seems to be the escape character, i.e. the character that makes the wildcard parser ignore “special” characters. So if you want to search for a literal parenthesis, use “(” without the quotes. The pattern “(*)” did for me what I think you’re trying to achieve. Hope this helps…

I just played around with this for the first time on a small, test document. It seems to work, providing the information in the parenthesis is text. Basically, you’re deleting all text within the parenthesis, and then you’re just deleting the parenthesis. I’m not very familiar with this exact function, and all of this could be very wrong. So please save a test copy of your document and try it on the test copy.

The following is based on Word 97.

Press CTRL + F.
Click on the Replace tab.
Click on the More button.
Select Use wildcards.
In the Find what box, enter ([a-z]).
Click on the Replace All button.
This should get rid of all the text in the parenthesis, but not any numbers.

Click on the Use wildcard checkbox. It should now be empty.
In the Find what box, enter the starting parenthesis, or (.
Click on the Replace All button.
In the Find what box, enter the ending parenthesis, or ).
Click on the Replace All button.

I just tried out Dead Badger’s suggestion and it worked perfectly. Wish I’d known about that a few years ago.