Did you ever go crazy with lot of junk characters showing in your Word document? They will appear when you press enter, add tab and even when you press space. Though these characters are shown in the document, they will not appear in the physical printout. You can check this in the print preview by pressing “Control + P” keys. These are non-printable characters used only for formatting purposes. If your Word document always shows paragraph marks and other formatting symbols here is how you can hide them.
Formatting Symbols in Word
Since Word will also show junk characters when you open incompatible documents, it is better to understand the difference between real junk characters and non-printable formatting symbols. For example, below is how the paragraph marks in Word will look like. It will show a dot for each space and a paragraph mark at the end of each paragraph.
Here is a complete list of formatting symbols and marks you may see depending upon the usage.
|Word Formatting Mark
Note that the paragraph symbol is also referred as Pilcrow Sign.
Hide Formatting Marks in Word Windows Version
If you are annoyed with the additional junk symbols showing in-between the text content, here are the options to hide them. Remember, those characters are always there as non-printable and what you can do is to show or hide them.
Using Keyboard Shortcut
When you only see paragraph marks in the document, it is easy to hide them with a keyboard shortcut. Press “Control + *” keys to toggle the marks to hide or show in your document. Since * key is on the number 8 key in standard English keyboard, you need to use “Control + Shift + 8” for this to work.
Using Menu Icon
Instead of keyboard shortcut, you can also use the menu icon from the ribbon. Go to Home menu and check under “Paragraph” grouping section. Click on the paragraph mark symbol to hide or show them in your document.
Hide Formatting Marks from Word Options
Word also offers a setting in the backstage Options section to enable formatting symbols. It offers two options – one is to show or hide individual marks and other is for all the marks. The above-mentioned keyboard shortcut and menu icon will basically toggle the settings in the backstage for all the marks. However, they will not work when you have enabled to show individual formatting symbols. For example, your document will show arrow marks for all Tabs if you have enabled that symbol. This can’t be turned off using keyboard shortcut or menu icon. So, the only option is to go to backstage Word Options section and disable the setting as explained below.
- Click on “File” menu and then go to “Options” menu.
- This will open Word Options dialog box and go to “Display” section.
- Disable checkmarks against all the items under “Always show these formatting marks on the screen” section.
- Click “OK” button to apply the changes.
Now, you will not see any formatting marks in your document.
Hide Non-Printing Characters in Word for Mac
If you are using Word for Mac (either as part of Microsoft 365 or as a standalone app), you can use the menu icon to hide the non-printing paragraph mark characters. However, there are no default keyboard shortcuts assigned in Mac for this purpose. Follow the below instructions, if you want to disable tab, anchor and other non-printing formatting symbols in Word for Mac.
- When you are in Word app, go to “Word > Preferences…” menu. Alternatively, you can press “Command + ,” keys to open the preferences dialog box.
- This will open Word Preferences as shown below and click on “View” option.
- On the next screen, disable all options under “Show Non-Printing Characters” section.
Close the preferences dialog box and now you will see all non-printing characters are hidden in your document.