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: Unwanted Graph Paper Effect.

Unwanted Graph Paper Effect

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 1, 2015)


Trevor noted that two of the systems at his office just recently exhibited the same strange behavior. When they start a new session with Word, it opens up with a "graph paper" effect on the screen. He wonders why this would this happen, and how they can turn it off.

There are a couple of possible reasons why this has occurred. The most likely reason is that the drawing grid has been turned on. Follow these steps to turn it off:

  1. Make sure the Drawing toolbar is displayed.
  2. Click on the Draw tool on the toolbar. Word displays the Draw menu.
  3. Select the Grid option from the Draw menu. If you are using Word 97, the Snap to Grid dialog box is displayed. If you are using Word 2000 or later, the Drawing Grid dialog box is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Drawing Grid dialog box.

  5. Clear the Display Gridlines on Screen check box. (In Word 97, clear the Snap Objects to Grid check box.)
  6. Click on OK.

If you follow these steps and find that the drawing grid was not turned on to begin with, then the problem could be related to a background image being set on the system. You can get rid of any background image by following these steps:

  1. Choose Background from the Format menu. Word displays a palette of options.
  2. Click No Fill.

If the graph paper effect is still visible, get out of Word and use Windows' tools to find the file. Rename it to something else (such as and then restart Word. If the problem goes away, then you know that it is due to some setting stored in your file. This can help you to track down the culprit, or you could simply let Word rebuild a new template file for you.

Finally, it could be that you have some third-party add-on installed that is causing the effect. Check your add-ons and if you see any there, turn them off and restart Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (524) 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: Unwanted Graph Paper Effect.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is four less than 8?

2014-08-05 11:40:46


Actually, for me I had to go to the "view" tab, and then go under "show" on the bottom of the toolbar and unlick "Gridlines."

2012-02-10 11:56:25


Thanks Allen - great tip. Easy when you think about it, but that graphing effect has annoyed me for a while. Much better now :-)

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