How to Turn on Show/Hide in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Turning on the Show/Hide feature in Microsoft Word is a simple process that allows you to see the hidden formatting marks in your document. This can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to troubleshoot formatting issues or ensure consistency throughout your document. In just a few clicks, you can reveal paragraph marks, spaces, tabs, and other hidden characters that might be affecting the layout of your text.

Step by Step Tutorial to Turn on Show/Hide in Word

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand that the Show/Hide feature displays all the non-printing characters in your document. This can help you spot any unwanted spaces or paragraph breaks that could be causing formatting issues.

Step 1: Open your Word document

Open the document in which you want to see the hidden formatting marks.

When you open your document, you’ll be looking at the standard view, which only shows the text and visible formatting.

Step 2: Click on the Home tab

At the top of the Word window, click on the Home tab to reveal a new set of options.

The Home tab is where you’ll find most of the formatting tools in Word, including the Show/Hide feature.

Step 3: Locate the Paragraph group

In the Home tab, look for the Paragraph group, which contains several paragraph formatting options.

The Paragraph group is usually found in the middle of the Home tab’s ribbon.

Step 4: Click on the Show/Hide button

Within the Paragraph group, click on the Show/Hide button, which looks like a paragraph mark (¶).

After you click this button, you’ll see various non-printing characters appear in your document, represented by special symbols.

After completing these steps, all the hidden formatting marks in your document will be visible. You’ll see paragraph marks at the end of each paragraph, dots where there are spaces, and arrows for tabs. This view can be toggled on and off as needed, so you can easily switch back to the standard view without these marks.

Tips for Using Show/Hide in Word

  • Use the Show/Hide feature to check for consistent spacing between paragraphs and sentences.
  • If you’re working with a team, turning on this feature can help everyone maintain the same formatting throughout the document.
  • Remember that the non-printing characters won’t appear in your printed document; they’re only visible on-screen.
  • If you find the marks distracting, you can turn off the Show/Hide feature at any time by clicking the button again.
  • Use the Show/Hide feature when copying and pasting text from different sources to spot hidden formatting that could affect your layout.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the non-printing characters that Show/Hide reveals?

The non-printing characters include paragraph marks, space marks, tab characters, and others that contribute to the document’s formatting but are not visible in the standard view.

Can I customize which non-printing characters are displayed?

Yes, Word allows you to customize which non-printing characters are displayed when you use the Show/Hide feature. You can find this option in Word’s settings.

Will the non-printing characters print out if I leave Show/Hide turned on?

No, the non-printing characters are for on-screen editing purposes only and will not appear in your printed document.

Is the Show/Hide feature available in all versions of Word?

The Show/Hide feature is a standard feature available in all recent versions of Microsoft Word.

How can I quickly turn on and off Show/Hide without using the ribbon?

You can use the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl + Shift + *" (asterisk) to quickly toggle the Show/Hide feature on and off.


  1. Open your Word document
  2. Click on the Home tab
  3. Locate the Paragraph group
  4. Click on the Show/Hide button


Mastering the Show/Hide feature in Word can make you a formatting wizard. It’s like having X-ray vision for your documents—you can see everything that’s going on under the hood. Whether you’re a student trying to get your essay just right, a professional preparing an important report, or anyone in between, knowing how to turn on Show/Hide in Word is a skill that will serve you well. With the ability to see every space, paragraph break, and tab, you can fine-tune your documents to perfection. Plus, it’ll save you the headache of trying to figure out why that one sentence just won’t align correctly. So, go ahead and give it a try! Who knows, you might just find yourself actually enjoying the process of formatting your documents.

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