How to Delete Returns in a Word Document


The "Find and Replace" function is one of the most time-saving features of a word processor. Whether you misspelled a name twice or a thousand times, a simple "Find and Replace" will put every instance to rights. Of course, "Find and Replace" works for nonalphabetical characters--such as asterisks and dollar signs--and even noncharacters, such as spaces and line breaks. So if you accidentally pressed the "Enter" key multiple times between paragraphs, or if someone sent you a file with a hard return at the end of each line, you can use the "Find and Replace" function to get rid of the line breaks.

  • Open the document with unwanted returns in Microsoft Word.

  • Press "Ctrl"-"Shift"-"8" to reveal invisible formatting symbols, such as paragraph breaks (which look like this--¶) and line breaks (which are left-pointing arrows with tails pointing up). Note whether the line breaks you want to remove are paragraph breaks, line breaks or a mix of both. Press "Ctrl"-"Shift"-"8" again to hide the invisible formatting symbols.

  • Press "Ctrl"-"H" to open the "Find and Replace" dialog box.

  • Type “^p” (without the quotation marks) in the “Find What” box to find paragraph breaks. Leave the “Replace With” box empty to delete the paragraph breaks, or type in something else if you want to replace the breaks with text or other characters or symbols.

  • Repeat Step 4, substituting “^l” (without the quotation marks) for “^p” to find line breaks if necessary.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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