The find-and-replace menace

OK. Don’t pounce on me as if I advised you not to use find and replace.

I agree that find and replace is an excellent Word tool for editors. But you should also remember that you are dealing with a machine. If you want to replace all -ize ending words with -ise ending, you cannot simply search for ize and replace them all with ize. Why? Because your computer will obediently replace “size” with “sise”.

Listen to this. An editor was asked to change the word “ad” to “advertisement” while he was editing a book. Guess what happened? There was this occurrence of “advertisement hoc”.

Worse still. Wanting to change all the number ranges like “7 to 12” to “7–12”, an editor got strange text such as “–ward” and “–urism”.

Enough of ghost stories. Be careful when you find and replace text.