Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Making All Occurrences Bold.

Making All Occurrences Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 21, 2018)

Tom rightly notes that in Word you can use Find and Replace to make all occurrences of a word bold. (Search for the word, replace it with the same word with bold formatting turned on.) He wonders how he can do the same thing in Excel.

The answer depends, in part, on the version of Excel you are using. If you are using Excel 2002 or a later version of Excel, the answer is easy—you do it virtually the same way that you do in Word. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the Options button to expand the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The expanded Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. In the Find What box, enter the word you want to make bold.
  5. Enter the same word in the Replace With box.
  6. Click the Format button to the right of the Replace With box. Excel displays the Replace Format dialog box.
  7. Click the Font tab. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Font tab of the Replace Format dialog box.

  9. In the Font Style list, choose Bold.
  10. Click OK to close the Replace Font dialog box.
  11. Click Replace All to perform the replacements.

While this appears quite easy, you need to remember that these steps change the formatting of entire cells, not just words within a cell. Thus, if you were searching and replacing the word "brown," then any cell that contained the word "brown" would be made bold—the entire cell, not just the word.

If you are using an older version of Excel (Excel 97 or Excel 2000) or you want to only affect words within the cell, then these steps won't work. Instead you'll need to resort to a macro to do the bolding. Basically, you'll need a macro that looks through a worksheet and determines what can be changed. (You cannot make individual words or digits in formulas or numeric values bold; you can only make changes to the word-level formatting for text constants.)

Once the macro finds cells it can process, it needs to search through the cells for the desired word, and then make that text bold. The following macro implements this very strategy:

Sub FindAndBold()
    Dim sFind As String
    Dim rCell As Range
    Dim rng As Range
    Dim lCount As Long
    Dim iLen As Integer
    Dim iFind As Integer
    Dim iStart As Integer

    On Error Resume Next
    Set rng = ActiveSheet.UsedRange. _
      SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants, xlTextValues)
    On Error GoTo ErrHandler
    If rng Is Nothing Then
        MsgBox "There are no cells with text"
        GoTo ExitHandler
    End If

    sFind = InputBox( _
      Prompt:="What do you want to BOLD?", _
      Title:="Text to Bold")
    If sFind = "" Then
        MsgBox "No text was listed"
        GoTo ExitHandler
    End If

    iLen = Len(sFind)
    lCount = 0

    For Each rCell In rng
        With rCell
            iFind = InStr(.Value, sFind)
            Do While iFind > 0
                .Characters(iFind, iLen).Font.Bold = True
                lCount = lCount + 1
                iStart = iFind + iLen
                iFind = InStr(iStart, .Value, sFind)
            Loop
        End With
    Next

    If lCount = 0 Then
        MsgBox "There were no occurrences of" & _
          vbCrLf & "' " & sFind & " '" & _
          vbCrLf & "to bold."
    ElseIf lCount = 1 Then
        MsgBox "One occurrence of" & _
          vbCrLf & "' " & sFind & " '" & _
          vbCrLf & "was made bold."
    Else
        MsgBox lCount & " occurrences of" & _
          vbCrLf & "' " & sFind & " '" & _
          vbCrLf & "were made bold."
    End If

ExitHandler:
    Set rCell = Nothing
    Set rng = Nothing
    Exit Sub

ErrHandler:
    MsgBox Err.Description
    Resume ExitHandler
End Sub

The macro first sets the search range to those cells that contain text constants. It then prompts the user for a word that needs to be changed. Once entered, the macro then starts looking through all the cells in the range. Each cell is checked to see if it contains the target word. If so, then the .Bold property for those characters is set and the macro continues searching.

The macro also keeps track of how many changes were made, displaying the total changes at the end of its work.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2414) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Making All Occurrences Bold.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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