Find words in all caps in Word

Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to find words in all caps in Word. Microsoft Word, that is. This helps you find all the acronyms so you can make sure you spelled them out or explained them properly.

Double-checking acronyms is especially important when writing government proposals, which require you to spell out acronyms on first usage. If you’ve never written a proposal, be glad, smile, and nod. Many acronyms make good index material, so this trick helps when you’re writing an index. Also, acronyms are frequently jargon, so making sure you explain them adequately is just part of good writing. Or, if you’re a fan of high quality typography, you might want to find them all so you can set them in small caps for improved aesthetics and readability.

Here’s how you do it.

In Word, do an advanced find (in Word 2010 or 2013; a plain search will do in 2007 and earlier). You can find it by navigating to Home in the ribbon at the top of the screen, then Find, and hitting the drop-down arrow. If you’re like me, you may find it easier to just hit CTRL-H, which works in all versions of Word. (You can remember it this way: CTRL-F is for Find, CTRL-H is for Hunt.) Next, click the More button, check the box labeled Use wildcards, and enter this regular expression:

Hit CTRL-H to bring up this dialog, then fill in the fields to quickly find words in all caps in Word.
Hit CTRL-H to bring up this dialog, then fill in the fields to quickly find words in all caps in Word.

<[A-Z]{2,}>

This searches for two or more capital letters in a row.

You can then cycle through the results one at a time by clicking Find Next. You can also just highlight them. To highlight, click on the Find tab, then click Reading Highlight, then click Highlight All. Then you can close the dialog and all of the words in all caps will appear in yellow highlight for you.

Finding capitalized words is a similar problem with a very similar solution. You can read about that here.

Finding words in all uppercase letters is another example of repetitive work that computers excel at doing. Most people never touch this functionality, so Microsoft buried it pretty deep in the user interface. But when you need it, it can save you hours of time.

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