4 Easy Ways to Find All Acronyms in a Word Document

find all acronyms in a Word document

You, too, can find all acronyms in a Word document, regardless of their format.

Why would you need to find all of the acronyms in a Word doc? Simple. So you can be much more thorough in much less time.

You can easily find all acronyms in a Word document—regardless of whether they’re in in AAA, A&A, or AaA format. As a bonus, you become The Most Knowledgeable Person in Your Office.

Translators, let’s say you’re working on a team project for which you need to create a glossary. Quickly finding all the acronyms that appear in your document saves you a lot of “visual scanning” work.

Copy editors, you may need to build an acronym list for your client. Creating one manually is tedious. Using the Find and Replace feature to find all acronyms in a Word document saves you a lot of time and ensures that your list is complete.

How to Find All Acronyms in a Word Document

Finding All Acronyms in AAA Format

The expression below finds all “standard” acronyms in your document. (See Figure 1.)

Here we’re instructing Word to find strings in uppercase letters that are at least two characters long.

    1. In Word’s Find dialog box, check Use wildcards.
    2. In the Find what: field, type the following sequence:

      <[A-Z]{2,}>
find all acronyms in a word document

Figure 1. Use the regular expression <[A-Z]{2,}>
to find all acronyms in a Word document in AAA format.

Finding All Acronyms in A&A Format

Your document may contain strings such as S&P (Standard and Poor’s) and M&E (monitoring and evaluation). If so, find them by including an ampersand (&) in your regular expression.

The expression below means “Find a three-character acronym, the middle character of which is an ampersand.”

  1. In Word’s Find dialog box, check Use wildcards.
  2. In the Find what: field, type the following sequence:

    <[A-Z]&[A-Z]>

Finding All Acronyms in AaA Format

RedLine does editing work for a client that produces reports for USAID. These reports often include “camel case” acronyms such as GoB (Government of Botswana) and GoU (Government of Uzbekistan). The first operation mentioned in this post would miss these strings. But we can change the expression to find all the camel case acronyms.

Here we want to find three-letter acronyms, the first and third characters of which are uppercase, the second character of which is lowercase.

  1. In Word’s Find dialog box, check Use wildcards.
  2. In the Find what: field, type the following sequence:

    <[A-Z][a-z][A-Z]>

Finding All Acronyms in AA1 Format

What if your text includes chemical compounds? CO2, H2O, and PM2.5 would not be found using the first tip in this post. If you modify your expression, however, Word will find all alphanumeric strings. (See Figure 2.)

The expression below means “Find strings in uppercase letters that are at least two characters long and followed by a number.”

    1. In Word’s Find dialog box, check Use wildcards.
    2. In the Find what: field, type the following sequence:

      <[A-Z]{2,}[0-9]>

find all acronyms in a word document, AA2 format

Figure 2. Use the regular expression <[A-Z]{2,}[0-9]>
to find all acronyms in a Word document in AA1 format.

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