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Find highlighted text in a Word document

February 26, 2013

We’re all bombarded with documents and emails and other reading material every day, and some of it contains information we’d actually like to remember and make use of. I often download the free Microsoft books, especially the free downloadable SharePoint books, and each book may be hundreds of pages. I’m grateful for all the good free training, but I have struggled a bit on what’s the best way to keep up with it all – especially to remember those essential nuggets of information I want to refer to again.

I’ve tried writing notes by hand into a paper notebook, but that takes much too long – and then there’s the issue of being able to find what I need. As they say, you can’t grep a dead tree! I have tried creating separate documents or Evernote notes with lists or my own summaries, and that works for smaller topics such as lists of database permissions needed or installation checklists, but sometimes the fact or table is best left in place so that the context can also be seen later – just as it would in a paper book. Lately I have started highlighting these books and whitepapers directly in Microsoft Word, and it is a lot faster than trying to re-type or put things into my own words to keep separate notes.  It also alleviates the problem of trying to find those separate notes I took!

If you highlight a downloaded book, be sure to save your changes often to be sure you get to keep the highlights you have made. Then, in Word 2010, if you want to go back and read all your highlighted text (or save it to a new document) you can just go to FindAdvanced Find -  then click More to expose the Format section. Under Format select Highlight.

From here you can use Find Next to move from one highlighted section to the next highlighted section, if you just want to read all the highlighted sections of the book for a refresher. Or instead of Find Next you can use Find InMain Document to select all of the highlighted text. Then if you want to you can copy and paste that highlighted text to a new document to have a nice little summary document.

Of course in the Review tab, Word also includes Comments you can insert into the document, sort of like you’d put a Post-It note along the margins of a paper book, and those have their own built-in Previous and Next functions.

{ 13 comments }

Kevin March 2, 2013 at 4:10 am

Neat. I’ve always known you could search for text but wasn’t aware you could search for formatting elements as well. I didn’t know you could select all for whatever it is you’re looking for either. Now to remember all this next time I need it…
Kevin´s last blog post ..Great Fish For Your First Saltwater Aqaurium

christie March 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

Same here. With smaller documents I had always just skimmed back through them to find the highlighting, but I realized that if I’m going to get any use out of free books in .doc or .docx form I needed to find a way to search those highlighted areas or forget it! :)

jeff April 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

My wife uses Windows 7 Sticky Note, which I find to be annoying because it gets cluttered up too fast .
jeff´s last blog post ..Pretty Girls and Railroads April 16, 2013 Daily Close Analytics Report

One Guy May 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Awesome!! Just as Jeff stated I use Windows 7 sticky note also. This is very helpful and I’ll definitely be tweeting :)

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areeb ul abideen May 27, 2013 at 6:48 am

You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I’d never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely large for me. I’m taking a look forward on your next post, I will try to get the dangle of it!

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Edgar Williamson June 20, 2013 at 7:03 am

I’ve been wondering how to do this and your article is simply perfect for my problem. Now I have a solution. Thanks for sharing!
Edgar Williamson´s last blog post ..Hello world!

Adam Kielich from discrimination lawyer dallas fort worth June 25, 2013 at 12:16 am

I do a lot of reading and editing of documents in my work environment and I find the highlighting function is a huge help. It’s basically what has kept me from wanting to print out everything so I can use a physical highlighter so I can discriminate between the content I want to employ and the content I don’t need.
Adam Kielich@discrimination lawyer dallas fort worth´s last blog post ..Fair Labor Standards Act & Texas Payday Law and Tipped Employees

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cuc.ir July 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

It was interesting.

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Interesting and resourceful post, I’ve learnt something new. Thanks for sharing.

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