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: Understanding Views.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 12, 2015)
Word provides different ways you can view your documents, depending on your particular needs. The major views available in Word are Normal, Outline, Print Layout, and Web Layout. You can choose which view you are using by clicking on the view controls at the left side of the horizontal scroll bar, or by selecting a view from the View menu.
Print Layout view is the one most closely related to what your document will look like when you actually print it. (In some versions of Word this view may be called Page Layout view.) In this viewing mode you can see your headers and footers in place, what your margins look like, how your frames appear in relation to text, and what your graphics look like in your document. This is the viewing mode you should use if you want to always see what your document will look like. You should not confuse Page Layout with Print Preview. Page Layout allows you to easily use Word's complete set of editing tools, whereas Print Preview does not because the various toolbars are not automatically available. In addition, Print Preview slows down Word quite a bit, even from the otherwise slow Page Layout view. (If you have a newer, faster computer, this slowdown should not be much of a concern.)
Normal view is the one you will probably use for most of your writing and editing. It offers a good balance of speed and appearance, whereas Print Layout view can slow down your system. When using Normal view, you can generally see how your text will appear on paper. This means you can see what each line will look like, how the text appears, and where the lines will break. You can also see where each page will break. Normal view also offers a benefit over Print Layout view in that you can use the style area to see what paragraph styles have been applied to your document. Print Layout view does not display the style area.
Outline view is used when you want to work with large portions of your document at the same time. It allows you to collapse your document and view only the major headings. The text under each heading can be hidden so it does not obscure your view of document organization. When you select Outline view, an additional outline toolbar appears at the top of the current window or document pane.
Web Layout view (referred to in Word 97 as "Online view") is designed to allow you to easily see how your documents will look if used in an online environment. If you are using Word 97, Online view also presents the Document Map at the left of the program window so that you can easily navigate to different areas of your document. (Beginning in Word 2000, Web Layout view does not automatically display the Document Map.)
If you open multiple documents, or you are use multiple panes to view the same document, switching views in one of the windows or panes will not affect the others. Word controls this independently, thus you can use one document pane to see what your document looks like in one view, and another to work with the document in an entirely different way.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (380) 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: Understanding Views.
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Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.