As a VA, we’re always looking for quick and easy ways to shorten transcription time. Find and Replace is a handy tool in Microsoft Word for replacing words that you know you have misspelt, or perhaps for entering commonly typed words throughout a document. This can be used when editing a document that has been previously typed, but can also be used to save time whilst typing a document.

Take for example, your document, where with each line you need to type the name of the speaker as in the example below:

If you are having to type a frequently used word, as with this example, the word ‘interviewer’ and ‘interviewee’. During transcription, you can replace this with a symbol and go back later to replace with the actual word. It’s worth remembering at this stage that you need to use a symbol that is not used anywhere else in the document, as when you use find and replace every instance of this symbol will be replaced, but with a bit of forward thinking, this shouldn’t cause a problem.

In the example below, you can see that we have replaced the word ‘interviewer’ with an asterisk (*) and the word ‘interviewee’ with a hash symbol (#)

Once the document is completed, you can use the find and replace tool to find all instances of a given symbol and replace it with the word that you need. To do this, do the following:

On the “home” tab of the ribbon, click “replace” under the ‘editing’ group.

You will be presented with the box below

In the ‘find what’ box, type the word you want to find and then in the ‘replace with’ box, type the word you want to replace it with as in the example below:


You can then choose to either replace the words one at a time, using the ‘replace’ button or replace all instances of the word with the desired alternative.

Et voila! Your changes are made! Once you’ve discovered the find and replace tool, you can use it to do some pretty fancy things, for example, trying clicking the “more” button before replacing all the words, to change colours, style, fonts or highlight certain words! Enjoy…

Steph Middleton is an experienced Virtual Assistant and MD of Outhouse UK