How to Replace a Newline in MS Word
By Aaron Parson
Even though Microsoft set the “Ctrl-F” shortcut to open the new Navigation pane in Word 2010 and 2013, the classic Find and Replace dialogue box still takes care of hunting down and swapping out text. There’s no direct way to type a line break into the search field, and unlike some special characters, such as a tab, you can’t even paste a line break into the field. Instead, find and replace breaks by searching for special codes that begin with a caret symbol.
Click “Replace” in the Editing section of the Home tab to open the Find and Replace dialogue box to the Replace tab. “Ctrl-H” also serves as a shortcut to open the box.
Type “^l” -- a caret followed by a lower-case L -- without quotation marks in the Find What field to search for new line breaks, or type “^p” to search for paragraph breaks. Most new lines in Word actually use paragraph breaks rather than line breaks -- pressing “Enter” starts a new paragraph, whereas pressing “Shift-Enter” inserts a line break.
Type the text you want in place of the break into the Replace With field. For example, enter “^p” in the Replace With field to convert manual line breaks into paragraph breaks.
Press “Find Next” to highlight the next line or paragraph break in the document. Continue clicking the button to scroll through each break in order.
Click “Replace” to replace the currently selected break, or click “Replace All” to change every break in the file.
- If you forget the special character codes, click “More” in the Find and Replace window, click “Special” and choose “Paragraph Mark” or “Manual Line Break” to insert the correct code into the Find What field automatically. Make sure you don’t pick “Paragraph Character,” which searches for the paragraph symbol rather than an actual paragraph break.
- Searching for “^p” won’t work if you turn on “Use Wildcards” in the search options. Either turn this option off or use the alternate code “^13”. [see reference 1. It doesn’t exactly specify that ^13 works with wildcards on, but it does.]
- Because typing a caret in Find and Replace indicates a special character search, Word won’t find actual caret symbols if you try to search for “^”. Instead, escape the special character with a second caret. [see reference 1.] For example, to find “2^4” in a document, search for “2^^4”.
Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.