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How to replace soft returns with hard returns in Word?

If you want to format a Word document by replacing manual line breaks (soft returns) with paragraph marks (hard returns) in it. How can you do to replace soft returns with hard returns in Word quickly? This tutorial will show you several ways to convert soft returns to hard returns.

Replace soft returns to hard returns with Find and Replace function

Replace soft returns to hard returns with VBA code

Replace soft returns to hard returns with Kutools for Word

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Hard Returns (paragraph marks) and Soft Returns (manual line breaks):

You can show paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols by clicking this Show/hidden button in the Home tab. See screenshot:

Hard Returns (paragraph marks) Symbol:

Soft Returns (manual line breaks) Symbol:

doc-hard-returns-soft-9 doc-hard-returns-soft-10

arrow blue right bubble Replace soft returns to hard returns with Find and Replace function

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Normally you can replace soft returns (manual line breaks) with hard returns (paragraph marks) with the Find and Replace function, and it’s more convenient than replacing them one by one.

Step 1: Click Home > Replace to open the Find and Replace window;

Step 2: Click More button to bring up more Search Options;

Step 3: Place the cursor in the Find what box, and select Manual Line Break from the Special drop-down list;

Step 4: Place the cursor in the Replace with box, and select Paragraph Mark from the Special drop-down list;

Step 5: Click Replace All.


arrow blue right bubble Replace soft returns to hard returns with VBA code

You can use the VBA code to replace soft returns (manual line breaks) with hard returns (paragraph marks) quickly.

Step 1: Press “Alt-F11” to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Application window;

Step 2: Click Module on the Insert tab, copy and paste the following VBA code into the Module window;

Step 3: Then click Run button to apply the VBA.

The VBA code of converting soft returns (manual line breaks) to hard returns (paragraph marks):

Sub ReplaceMLBwithPM()
Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
With Selection.Find
.Text = "^l"
.Replacement.Text = "^p"
.Forward = True
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Format = False
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = False
.MatchByte = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchFuzzy = False
End With
Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End Sub


arrow blue right bubble Replace soft returns to hard returns with Kutools for Word

It’s the most convenient way to convert soft returns (manual line breaks) to hard returns (paragraph marks) by using Kutools for Word. Kutools for Word provides one click operation to accomplish the converting.

Kutools for Word, a handy add-in, includes groups of tools to ease your work and enhance your ability of processing word document. Free Trial for 45 days! Get It Now!

After installing Kutools for Word, you can replace soft returns with hard returns as follows.

1. Please apply this utility by clicking Kutools > More > Convert Manual Line Breaks to Paragraph Marks. See screenshot:

2. After clicking Convert Manual Line Breaks to Paragraph Marks, you can see all soft marks are converted to hard marks from the whole document.

Note:

Besides convert all soft marks to hard marks from the whole document, Kutools for Word’s Convert Manual Line Breaks to Paragraph Marks utility allows you to convert all soft marks to hard marks from the selected part of the document.

For more detailed information about Manual Line Break to Paragraph Mark of Kutools for Word, please visit: Manual Line Break to Paragraph Mark.

If you want to replace hard returns with soft returns, please visit: replace hard returns with soft returns in Word.


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    DH · 1 months ago
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So much. Without the knowledge of the different breaks and the different between the paragraph symbol and the left turning arrow symbol, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to replace a "soft return" with a "hard return". A manual like break is left over from Word Perfect and over time MS Word kept this feature but really doesn't make it easy to understand what it is.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Susan Archie · 2 years ago
    thank you - I can never find this stuff if Word Help.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Michael O. · 3 years ago
    Great tip! You're a lifesaver.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    nina · 3 years ago
    Check this out. This is a link you will want to keep for future reference.