Maddening editing problem with Mac MS Word

mavante

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 19, 2019
3
0
I'm currently on High Sierra 10.13.6 with the latest version of MS Word 2019, but, really, I have had this problem with every version of Word going back decades. I'm praying that someone here has experienced this and knows some solution—any solution.

The problem is with text brought in from another application that has hard returns ("Paragraph mark" in Microsoft-ese) at the ends of some or all lines within a paragraph. All I want to do is quickly and easily remove all "paragraph marks" internally in a given paragraph, but not the ending "paragraph mark."

Please, please understand that I decidedly am not asking how to turn the visual indicators of paragraph marks on or off. I'm talking about removing them, period.

It is very easy to do this in a text editor such as BBEdit. Apparently, from a video I saw, it's easy to do it in MS Word on Windows by selecting the text and using Ctrl+Spacebar. Doesn't work on a Mac. (Also doesn't work replacing Ctrl with Cmnd.)

I would be happy if I simply could select each unwanted paragraph mark and hit Spacebar to replace it with a space, but Word won't even allow that. It does nothing. The space doesn't replace the paragraph mark, and doesn't appear.

Please help if you can. Thanks.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
1,694
402
In Word 16.31 edit/find/replace you can replace paragraph marks (^p) with characters such as spaces, or null to remove them completely.

If you want to keep them at the end of paragraphs it's a little trickier. Try to find a search criteria which uniquely identifies paragraph ends, if it exists, such as (^p)(space)(space). Then change those characters to something temporary, like xxx. Remove all of the paragraph marks. Finally replace the "xxx"s with paragraph marks.
 
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Ruggy

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2017
297
169
I've definitely done this with find and replace as mentioned above in Word.
I used to have documents arrive in many formats so I've seen exactly what you are seeing on more than one occasion.
First, select the paragraph mark or mark you want to remove.
From memory, if you put the curser to the rt of the mark, hold the up arrow and hit the back button, it'll select the character on the left of the curser even when you can't see it. This can be really useful trick for selecting something greyed out or invisible.
I usually have to do this things to be sure but there's a key combination like that around there with those buttons and that one works on my mac.
Then when selected hit Cmd+C to copy it.
From memory, you go to the 'Edit' menu and look for 'find' and 'replace', if you've done it in this order it'll already be in find. If it's an invisible mark which you get sometimes importing documents into Word like this,
You may see a space and the curser blinking just to the right of the first character so you can tell there's something there.
If it isn't there, hit Cmd+V to paste
Then go down to the 'replace' box
If you leave it blank it should just remove it but you can replace it with a space or a full stop or paragraph or something else you like.
Oh and then you have to choose replace all of course.
(If you are doing this on a Windows machine sometime then it's Cntrl+C or V)

X is cut, A is select all.
Cmd +Z is undo last action. Very useful one that.
P.S.
When I'm talking about invisible marks, sometimes importing stuff from old versions of Word you get weird grey blocks. Sometimes between words, sometimes in words and I think they are font substitutions or something. Anyway, you can select them and get rid of them using the above technique too.
 
Last edited:

donklaus

macrumors member
Mar 6, 2011
69
10
Here's the process I use, and have been since the 90s on both Windows and Mac versions. It may seem like a lot of steps, but once you understand what you're trying to achieve, it's simple:

1) Select the text in your Word document that you want to revise
2) Under the Edit pull-down (top application menu, not in the ribbon), select Find > Advanced Find and Replace
3) In the box that appears, find the downward-point arrow in the lower left area and click it to reveal multiple options for Search and Find
4) Under Find, click on the Special filed, and select Paragraph Mark
5) You may want to choose the option to Highlight all items found in. I never do.
6) Select Replace in top-level options
7) In the Replace with field, I type a single spacebar entry (double-spaces)*
8) Then repeat the process to replace all double-spaces with a single space, removing the additional spaces you just added by replacing the paragraph marks.
* You could use other obvious characters, but a simple space works well.
 
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mavante

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 19, 2019
3
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Thank you to everyone who replied—except no one who has replied so far has actually read and understood what I asked.

I do not need to know how to "replace all" of anything. I am working with documents that are as long as 200,000 words, and have a great deal of variation in the way various sections are formatted because they were compiled from a variety of contributors.

So let me be as explicitly clear as possible: I need to remove paragraph marks from the ends of lines WITHIN CERTAIN PARAGRAPHS ONLY, BUT NOT THE END-OF-PARAGRAPH MARK FOR THAT SPECIFIC PARAGRAPH.

I hope that helps.
 

ItWasNotMe

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2012
283
85
As advised above by donklaus, if you used Advanced find and replace from the menu

Selecting all the text for a paragraph except the final marker
On the Find Tab:
Entering ^P as the text you want to find
Highlight all items found in the current selection

On the Replace Tab:
Entering the text you want to replace that marker with, e.g. space, double space,....

And Replace All

Then that would correct the selected paragraph and you could move onto the next
 

cybamerc

macrumors newbie
Nov 20, 2019
2
0
You may be able to achieve the desired result using wildcards.
https://wordmvp.com/FAQs/General/UsingWildcards.htm

E.g. assuming that you only have one paragraph mark where the hard returns are supposed to be (hardly ever the case with regular Word users though) and where the soft returns used to be AND assuming that soft returns are followed by lower case letters (probably not always the case):

Open your search and replace dialogue and enable wild cards.

Search for (^13)([a-z]) and replace with \2

It may require a bit of experimentation to get the result that you want but wildcards in Word can be quite useful.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
1,694
402
I need to remove paragraph marks from the ends of lines WITHIN CERTAIN PARAGRAPHS ONLY, BUT NOT THE END-OF-PARAGRAPH MARK FOR THAT SPECIFIC PARAGRAPH.
If the key word here is "certain" then why not just select the paragraph or line you want to change up to but not including the final paragraph marker and do the find all/replace on the selection?

I do not need to know how to "replace all" of anything.
Don't understand. You want to go through the entire document replacing paragraph markers paragraph by paragraph or line by line? Another way to do that would be to do a select all on the document, copy, and do a paste special without formatting into a new document, going through and manually adding the paragraph markers as needed.
 
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mavante

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 19, 2019
3
0
Thanks for the replies. All proposed solutions require about six more steps than I can do in a text editor—or in other word processors—so I will resign myself to the inconceivable fact that MS Word actively prevents a user from highlighting a paragraph mark, hitting the spacebar, and thereby replacing the paragraph mark with a space. For an alleged word processor, that reaches to the level of clinical insanity. Merely one more reason why I despise MS Word, but I still have to use it for client compatibility.
- - Post merged: - -

Don't understand. You want to go through the entire document replacing paragraph markers paragraph by paragraph or line by line?
No. I want to go through the entire document replacing paragraph markers line by line in certain passages of text at my sole discretion.
 

ItWasNotMe

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2012
283
85
...All proposed solutions require about six more steps than I can do in a text editor—or in other word processors...
- - Post merged: - -
I just counted it - once the Advanced Find and Replace has been set up for the first replacement it takes no more than six mouse clicks to replace the paragraph mark in a piece of text that is arbitrarily long, one of those being the selection itself.

The method you would like to use but can't requires at least two actions per marker (select and space-bar).

So, you gain every time there are four or more redundant markers in a block of text.
 

Ruggy

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2017
297
169
You are right, I hadn't realised you just wanted to remove the marks in the middle of the sentence.
What may help is to use the 'clear formatting' function.
You make a selection- presumably to the end where you want to keep a paragraph mark- then find the 'clear formatting' function and it should take all of them away inside the selection.
I haven't got a recent version of Word but it should be in the style menu and you should be able to put an icon on the toolbar if you customise.

But to remove marks individually, surely just the back button works? Put it to the right of the mark, hit the back button near top right on the keyboard and it'll remove it then press space.
Also works at the head of a paragraph. Hit back key and it takes out the paragraph on the previous line.

This has worked on every version of Word I've had.
If this isn't happening then you must have some other sort of character like i was talking about - the greyed out sort- in which case copying just that character and using find and replace will delete just those characters not the ones at the end of the paragraph that will be different and won't be affected.
 

cybamerc

macrumors newbie
Nov 20, 2019
2
0
So you want to go through the document manually?

On Windows you can navigate a window by looking for labels with underscores under certain letters. In the Find and Replace dialogue you can Find Next pressing Alt+F (English version) and Replace by pressing Alt+R. Maybe something similar is possible on the Mac.