Scientific writing: Easily change all the “degree signs” you wrote to a proper degree sign

So you wrote all your degree signs as a superscript small letter o, or a superscript zero or some other rubbish, and now you need to change all several hundred instances to a proper degree sign: °, also known as unicode character U+00B0.

Here’s how to easily use Word’s find and replace function to accomplish this task.

Bring up the find and replace window. This is Ctrl+H in Word 2013, Ctrl+F in previous versions.

The easiest way to replace your misused symbol with a proper degree sign depends on what kind of symbol you misused.

If you have misused a superscript letter o, O, or 0 (zero) as a degree sign…

Type the misused symbol (o, O or 0) into the find field.

While your cursor is still in the find field, press Ctrl+Shift++ and notice the word “Superscript” appear below the find field. This ensures Word only searches for superscript instances of your misused character.

Go to the Windows Character map and copy a degree sign.

Screenshot of the degree sign in the Windows Character Map.

The degree sign in the Windows Character Map.

Paste the degree sign into the replace field.

While your cursor is still in the replace field, press Ctrl+Shift++ twice and notice the words “Not Superscript/Subscript” appear below the replace field. Unlike your misused character, Word replaces the degree sign as an in-line character.

Press “Replace All”.

How to find and replace a superscript o, O, or 0 misused as a degree sign.

How to find and replace a superscript o, O, or 0 misused as a degree sign.

If you have instead misused a more exotic symbol…

Type “^u###”, where u### is the decimal unicode for the incorrect character, into the find field. The find terms for some characters commonly misused as degree signs are in the table below.

Name Character Hexadecimal unicode Word decimal unicode find term
Degree sign ° U+00B0 ^u176
Masculine ordinal indicator º U+00BA ^u186
Chinese character code point U+2103 ^u8451

Unfortunately, you can’t use “^u176” in the replace box in Word. Instead, correct the first instance as above, copy the corrected instance and type ^c in the replace box to replace with the clipboard contents.

Screenshot of Word find and replace dialogue. How to find and replace a masculine ordinal indicator misused as a degree sign.

How to find and replace a masculine ordinal indicator misused as a degree sign.

Press “Replace All”.

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2 thoughts on “Scientific writing: Easily change all the “degree signs” you wrote to a proper degree sign

  1. Thanks for referencing my blog post in here. I’m going to put a formal link back to this one in that post, as it’s very useful indeed.

  2. Pingback: How to insert non-standard English characters into almost any text | LibroEditing proofreading, editing, writing

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