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MS Word: Change Order of Words by Swapping Sequence

Samyak Lalit | July 16, 2013 (Last update: February 7, 2015)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

MS Word provides a set of powerful regular expression codes. You can use them for carrying out complex Find and Replace functions.

Sometimes, we need to swap the order of two (or more) words and change their sequence. Depending upon the size of the document, this task could turn out to be nightmarish. But with proper use of regular expressions, you can perform it in a jiffy! Here is how you can do it.

Let’s assume you have three words in one line, like:

First Second Third

And you want to recorder these words as:

Second First Third

Here are the steps to hit bull’s eye!

Open document in which order change is to be done.

Press CTRL + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.

In Find what box, type (<*>) (<*>) (<*>)

In Replace box type \2 \1 \3

Click on “More >>” button to display advanced options

Select “Use wildcards” checkbox

Click on “Replace All” button.

That’s it! The words order will be changed!

NOTE: Make sure there is one space between adjacent (<*>)

NOTE: Make sure there is one space between \2 and \1 and \3

ALSO READ: More MS-Word Tips and Trick

How does this work?

If you are astonished to see the quick results of an otherwise seemingly tedious task, you might be wondering how it happened! Well, details of regular expressions is beyond the scope of this article, so I will not go into that. But in simple way, each of (<*>) represents one word and \2 \1 \3 represent sequence of words. So, if in “Replace with” box you will write \3 \1 \2 the resulting sequence of words would be

Third First Second

As I mentioned before, make sure that you give a space where it is required. By the way, you can also reverse the order of a list in MS Word.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic. I will be happy to try and answer. Thank you for using TechWelkin.


5 responses to “MS Word: Change Order of Words by Swapping Sequence”

  1. Zucky says:

    Can I apply this selectively? for example: “The first three days of the week are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.” I would like to reorder “Sunday”, “Monday”, “Tuesday” only leaving the rest words as they are.

  2. Lena says:

    Hey Lalit! When I tried this and a warning pop-up window show up with the sentence: The replace with this text contains a group number which is out of range.

    Do you know what this mean?

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Hi Lena, thank you for your message! what you’re saying should not happen. I again tried all the steps by copying text step-by-step from the above article. And it worked like a charm. I am using MS Word 2013.

  3. yassin says:

    Could you help me with reversing the word order for a whole paragraph?

    You are welcome to use my email to respond.

    Happy holidays!

    Thank you

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