What did I learn today: How to use Negative Find


Amazing feature. Difficult to discover but extremely powerful. Read on …


The Need: Negative Find

I was watching the amazing series How to get away with murder. I wanted a list of episodes from the download page. I copy pasted it from the web page to Word. It had many unwanted details. I wanted to get rid of those.

the need for Negative Find

Of course I could have also used Power Query. But I wanted to do it in Word.

The process

What I wanted was in BOLD font. So I should delete anything which is NOT BOLD.

It is a Find and delete scenario. So I went to the Find Dialog. CTRL H and click on the Find tab. Click on More and choose Formatting drop down and select Font…

Negative Find

It has all the Font related settings available to search. But I was looking for absence of BOLD. How do I do that?

That was simple enough by using one of my base rules of learning user interface:
When you see a scroll bar – you must scroll!

And there it was – Not Bold option.

find replace

Choosing Find In – Main Document selected all the content which was not bold. And then one Delete operation gave me what I wanted. The list of episode names. (Replace All with an empty Replace textbox would also have worked).


That’s It.

Reset the option

Remember to remove the Not Bold formatting from the Find area by clicking on the No Formatting button. Otherwise, regular Find will get confused in future searches Smile

Is that all we learnt?

Not at all. Now that you know that there is negative search, you should also KNOW that all options in Find dialog which refer to some kind of formatting can be used in
NO <something> mode.

The negative search works on on/off kind of properties. Not list properties. That means you can choose NOT Italic, NOT Keep With Next, but you cannot say NOT Heading1 Style.

Any parameter which is chosen from a list like fonts, styles, colors, etc. do not have the Negative option.

Try it out and remember to share it with your friends / colleagues who work extensively on complex documents.

What Next

As you can see, the list is in reverse order. The first episode name is at the bottom of the list. How to reverse the order of episodes? We will see that in the next article.


One thought on “What did I learn today: How to use Negative Find”

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?