A word search finds a sequence of words without regard to the type of punctuation between them. For instance, if you enter a search string that consists of two words separated by a single space, the search matches any sequence of those two words separated by one or more spaces, newlines, or other punctuation characters. This is particularly useful for searching text documents, because you don’t have to worry whether the words you are looking for are separated by newlines or spaces.
If incremental search is active, toggle word search mode
isearch-toggle-word); otherwise, begin an incremental forward
word search (
Search for words, using a forward nonincremental word search.
Search backward for words, using a nonincremental word search.
To begin a forward incremental word search, type M-s w. If
incremental search is not already active, this runs the command
isearch-forward-word. If incremental search is already active
(whether a forward or backward search), M-s w switches to a word
search while keeping the direction of the search and the current
search string unchanged. You can toggle word search back off by
typing M-s w again.
To begin a nonincremental word search, type M-s w RET
for a forward search, or M-s w C-r RET for a backward search.
These run the commands
Incremental and nonincremental word searches differ slightly in the way they find a match. In a nonincremental word search, each word in the search string must exactly match a whole word. In an incremental word search, the matching is more lax: while you are typing the search string, its first and last words need not match whole words. This is so that the matching can proceed incrementally as you type. This additional laxity does not apply to the lazy highlight, which always matches whole words.