A friend got in touch recently in a bit of a panic. All sorts of odd marks had appeared in her Word document. It looked something like this:
What were all these funny symbols? Where had they come from and, more importantly, how could she get rid of them?
Showing paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols
Word gives you the option to view paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols. Basically, this means that you can see where the author of a document has pressed the Return key or Tab or Space, or inserted a forced break or some other formatting. Why is it useful? It means that if you are editing or otherwise tidying up a document, you can see what’s been done in order to resolve it. For example, in this document, I can see that the author has used the Return key to force text to appear on a new page (instead of using Ctrl-Enter to force a page break):
and when I’ve done it properly, I can see the page break marked:
So, how did I get to see these funny marks? In Word for both Mac and PC, you can find a button with the paragraph mark on it which will make them display:
Show Paragraph marks in Word for PC
Go to the Home tab and you’ll find it half way along. Press the button, it will go orange, and your formatting marks will display.
I’ve actually put this button onto my Quick Access Toolbar (find out how to do that) as it’s a very useful button for an editor/proofreader!
Show Paragraph marks in Word for Mac
In Word for Mac, the Show Paragraph marks button is handily already in the top toolbar. Press the button and all your formatting will become visible.
How do I hide the Paragraph marks and other formatting?
If the marks appear and you want to hide them, simply find the Paragraph Marks button and press it again. It should stop being orange, and your formatting marks will no longer be displayed.
Thanks to Linda for the inspiration and Mac screenshot!
This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.
Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!
Find all the short cuts here …