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Microsoft Word/find and replace to change order in reference list


Hi Suzanne,

If I have a reference list full of entries using the format: 347:1227-32, 2002, is it possible to change that globally to the format 2002; 347:1227-32.? Thanks for all your help.


I'm sure it's possible. Depending on what else there is in the entries, you may have to use wildcards, but if the entry consists only of the numbers in the format you cited, then it should be pretty straightforward:

1. Using Replace, search for a comma and space and replace with a tab character (^t). That will give you a list of entries in the format 347:1227-32<tab>2002.

2. Select the list and convert it to a table (how you do this will depend on what version of Word you have), selecting "Tabs" for "Separate text at." This will give you a two-column table.

3. Drag the second column to the left of the first.

4. Convert the table to text, separating the text with tabs.

5. Replace ^t with semicolon and space.

If there is other text in the entries (as I assume there probably is), then it can still be done, using wildcards, but I'd have to know more about how much variation in length there is in all the numbers. Obviously, the years will all have four digits, but the volume and page numbers will vary, and some may be single pages rather than inclusive pages. I think with wildcards you could allow for varying numbers of digits, but you might have to make two passes to cover single pages and inclusive pages.
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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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