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How to Find Hanukkah in InDesign (no matter how it’s spelled)

Tonight marks the first day of Chanukkah… or Hanukah… or… how do you spell that word?! Like most words from Hebrew or most other languages that are written in non-Roman alphabets, it literally has no official spelling in English. And so it gets spelled many different ways… sometimes even in the same document!

Of course, that make it very difficult to search for in InDesign’s Find/Change dialog box. But there’s a trick: GREP.

Last year, Erica Gamet came up with a wonderful GREP expression that will find almost all the ways this holiday is spelled. This year, I just learned two new ways to spell it (thanks to Lawrence Horwitz of Teacup Software) so I modified Erica’s grep slightly, to:


That will find all these spellings:

Hanukkah Chanukah Hanukah Hannukah Chanuka Chanukkah Hanuka Khanukkah Channukah Chanukka Hanukka Hannuka Hannukkah Channuka Xanuka Hannukka Channukkah Channukka 

Personally, I think the right way to spell it is Khanukkah, because:

  • the first sound is a guttural sound (like clearing your throat) that is definitely not “cha”. (No Hebrew words have that “cha” sound, like cha-cha.)
  • The “kk” reminds us that there are different “k” sounds in Hebrew, and this word is spelled with a kaf character with a dagesh hazak, a dot in the middle that gives it a stronger, harder sound.
  • There’s no reason to have two “n”s in a row. That’s just odd.

However, no one in their right mind is going to spell it that way because… well, because it just looks bizarre.

So this year I’ve given up the argument and I’m just spelling it Hanukah.

Chappy Hanukah everyone!


David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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7 Comments on “How to Find Hanukkah in InDesign (no matter how it’s spelled)

  1. Lawrence wrote me with an update… sounds like we should use ? instead of *… he wrote:

    Using the * matches “from 0 to an unlimited number” of letters. So your expression matches:






    Which isn’t right. Using a ? instead of a * will match 0 or 1 instances of the preceding character. You can also use character groups in [brackets], and you can use an | or operator to match multiple character groups as long as you’re in a (capturing group). So here’s a better version:


    I know that looks ugly. But the [brackets] allow you to require one of those start characters to be there. If you just replace the *s with ?s in your original, you’d fix lots of the issues but you’d still match ‘anuka’ and ‘KChXHanuka’. The \b at the beginning and end make it match whole words only.

    Note the corrected Unicode character code point for the h with the dot diacritic on top. Also, added capital H with the diacritic.

    This is a great regex testing page if you don’t use something like it already:

  2. So Ḥanuka is spelt in Hebrew חנוכה. The first letter is a ḥet which is closer to an h than a כ (chaf). Therefore if you don’t use an Ḥ then actually an H is probably closer to the correct pronunciation (that us Anglos can’t do, but the Sepharadim and Yemenites can).

    I’m going to stop there…

    Ḥag Urim Sameʿaḥ from Modi‘in where the story of Ḥanuka started!

  3. Where should a GREP such as this one by Erica Gamet be saved for future use? Better question: where should all GREPs be saved? I’m unfamiliar with GREPs but I want to be able to save this one. Please respond. Thank you.

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