How to delete multiple spaces

File clean-up is an important part of the editing process. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of editing a document, I run a handful of global checks. One of these is searching for and deleting multiple spaces. To save your editor time, and you money, try and delete these extra spaces before you send your file to them.

Here’s how to do it:

Note, I’m using Word for Office 365. If you’re using a different version of Word, some of my screenshots may look different from what you have.

1. Turn on paragraph marks. Doing this will show you the non-printing symbols. Go to the Home ribbon and click on the show/hide paragraph symbol.

Figure 1: The Home ribbon with the paragraph symbol toggled on

2. On the Home ribbon, click on the Replace button.

Figure 2: The Home ribbon with ‘Replace’ circled

3. In the Find what box, hit the space bar twice. In the Replace with box, hit the space bar once. Here’s a picture of the box. The spaces don’t show up, unfortunately.

Figure 3: Word’s Find and Replace box

4. Click Find Next. The double spaces will be highlighted in grey.

Figure 4: Sample text showing two spaces highlighted in grey

5. Click Replace. You will be left with one space.

6. Keep going!

You can click the Replace All button, but do so with caution. If you have used spaces to format or centre text, then the layout will be ruined (I recommend using tabs or the centre button for this kind of formatting).

7. If you think you’ve been liberal with the spaces, do this search again, but search for three spaces.

You can download a free PDF version of this guide.