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Mastering Find/Change

The more you understand this unsung hero, the more productive you’ll be!

Most of us take for granted the ability to search for text in a document—to locate an instance of a word or phrase each time it appears, and then change each found instance to a new word or phrase. This Find/Change feature alone is a lifesaver when you need to quickly and accurately locate and change content in a document. But InDesign, as you might suspect, boasts find/change capabilities far and above a mere exchange of text characters.

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Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius is an Adobe Certified Instructor, Author, and Consultant in the Philadelphia area and works with clients to improve their creative workflows using Adobe products. He's also the author of several courses on He specializes in PDF accessibility using Adobe InDesign and is a regular speaker at The InDesign Conference and PePcon.
Chad Chelius

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  • - November 30, -0001
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19 Comments on “Mastering Find/Change

  1. I tried the GREP find/change for numbered lists, and while it did find and apply the correct style, it did not delete the original number, so I have double numbers now – one that is part of the style, and one that is part of the list. What did I miss?

  2. You actually didn’t miss anything Charlotte, it’s I who missed something. You can’t actually find and change content as well as apply formatting at the same time. You can actually see this when you have a formatting property applied, next to the words “Change to”, you’ll see a small “info” icon indicating that formatting attributes are defined. This means that anything you put in the “Change to” field won’t get applied. To actually remove the static numbers in the text, you’ll need to clear the formatting attributes in the “Change Format” section and perform a “change all” again.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention and I apologize for any confusion!

  3. Humm!

    Hi! Are you talking about find manual numbering and replace it by auto-numbering para style deleting in the same time the previous manual numbering?


    [Sorry, I’m not a member!]

    • Yes, Obi-wan, that is what we are talking about. Finding the characters, removing them, then applying a numbered paragraph style to the found text.

      • So … 1 regex!

        Find: ^[manual numbering](first char of the para between parenthesis)
        Replace by: $1
        Replace by Format: Auto-numbering para style!

        I don’t know the “manual numbering”. So, replace: [manual numbering] by something lie this: \d+\.\h

        (^/) :-)

  4. That’s a great solution Obi-wan. So Charlotte, I need to clarify what I said in my reply to you. When you don’t define anything in the Change to field, only formatting is applied. The challenge in this case is that we want to remove the manual formatting but don’t want to replace it with anything. What Obi-wan pointed out is a creative way to achieve both removing of the manual numbering and formatting all in one execution.

    Here’s how to do it:

    In the Find What field, enter \d+\.\s(\u)

    This looks for the same string of characters we were looking for before but also “grabs” the first uppercase letter after the number. In the Change to field, type $1 which puts back whatever uppercase letter is appearing as the first character of the paragraph. Now define the paragraph style you want to apply in the Change Format section. Pressing Change all now removes the manual numbering and applies the formatting in one query.

    Thanks for sharing this with us Obi-wan!

  5. This is a list cleanup GREP Find/Change that I run after formatting either numbered or bulleted lists (it works on both) with the correct paragraph style that automatically applies bullets/numbering. It will remove numbers, bullets, and/or spaces at the beginning of the paragraph.

    Find what: ^(\x{00B7}|~8|\d{1,}\.?\)?)[\t\s]+(.+)
    Change to: $2

  6. Sir, I want to Find Text and Replace with Image (TIF) file
    and its multiple find and replace required…

    Is it possible ?

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