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Microsoft Word — How to show invisible characters

Summary

Microsoft Word documents contain invisible characters (formatting marks). If we know, how to show them and how to use them, we can control document layout much better!

Video Transcript

How to show invisible characters in Microsoft Word

Invisible characters in Word are just formatting marks. They are used in Word to show the layout of a document.

You can see arrows (for tabs), dots for spaces, an anchor for an object anchor and so on and you know exactly how the text is built for example where a paragraph starts and where it ends.

If you'de like to change something in the text, to add or to remove a paragraph you can do that easily, because you see, what you have to change - to add, to shift or to remove.

Formatting characters in Word are marks for

  • optional hyphens
  • space characters
  • tabs
  • paragraphs
  • line breaks
  • page and section breaks
  • object anchors

So, what do the formatting marks look like, exactly?

Let's display the marks so that we can see some examples of them - and remember - they are really hidden, they do not appear on the paper when you print a document, they are only for our information about the layout of the document.

The first character is formatting mark for optional hyphen,then the next are:

  • dots for spaces,
  • arrows for tab marks,
  • five paragraph marks,
  • three manual line breaks,
  • page break
  • and finally an anchor for the anchor of the clicked image.

Now, how to show the hidden characters if they are hidden? Because they are hidden by default.

To show them we can use keyboard shortcut or a menu button. We can also change some settings so that the hidden characters are visible in Word documents by default.

Let's start with the menu button. To show or to hide formatting marks hit the button with the paragraph symbol on it. This will show or hide the special characters.

But if you want to do this faster, use shortcut Ctrl+* (on the keyboard hit keys Ctrl+Shift+8).

An other option is to change Word default settings. Choose File | Options and under Display there are settings for displaying formatting marks.

Changes made here will be default Word settings - from now new created documents will be shown with or without hidden characters, accordingly to options we have changed.

That's all.

If you want to know more about special hidden characters, how to use them effectively to keep maximum control over Word documents and how to avoid problems with the text formatting check out our Ninja courses.


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