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Displaying Spaces in a Document

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Displaying Spaces in a Document.

Have you ever worked on a document that included multiple fonts and the printout didn't quite match what you wanted? Sometimes there was more space between words or sentences than what seemed right, and you didn't quite know what the problem was?

I have found that the culprit is often my own fault. I may have placed extra spaces between words or sentences in such a manner that the text looks fine on screen, but doesn't quite fit the bill when finally printed. The solution, of course, is to remove the extra spaces and make sure there are a consistent number of them between both words and sentences. The problem with the solution is that it is often difficult to see how many spaces there really are.

Fortunately, Word allows you to easily see where spaces occur in your documents. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the View tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The View tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Spaces check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Now, all your spaces appear as small visible dots. It is very easy to tell where two visible dots appear, as opposed to two invisible spaces. Delete your extra spaces as you would delete any other characters, and you will have your document cleaned up in no time.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1425) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Displaying Spaces in a Document.

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Comments for this tip:

Gea    22 Dec 2012, 15:52
Unless there are multiple spaces wanted somewhere in the test, it is easiest to hit Crt-H put 2 spaces in the find box and one in the replace box. Hit replace all. After that try the same with 3 spaces in the find box and one in the replace box. And replace all will then have done with unwanted spaces.
Bless you
J R Scott Baker    22 Dec 2012, 07:04
Why not use the Paragraph sign on the Word toolbar that toggles Show/Hide the CR (Carriage Return in old typewriter paralance)? If you look it also toggles on/off of the spaces.
Malcolm Ross-Macdonald    22 Dec 2012, 05:14
You could also just click on the formatting icon in the toolbar, which does the same thing AND shows paragraph marks (as distinct from forced carriage returns, which it also shows). Or, if you don't want multiple spaces ANYWHERE in the document, you could just put two spaces in the Find box and one in the Replace box, and keep hitting 'Replace All' until zero changes are made.

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