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: Protecting Hidden Text.

Protecting Hidden Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 13, 2017)

Hidden text is a great help to those who want to "hide" certain parts of a document, either from viewing or from printing. However, it is not very good for hiding information that you don't want others to see in a document you are distributing. They (the ones to whom you are distributing the document) can display or print hidden text just as easily as you can.

There is no built-in feature of Word that allows you to "lock" hidden text so it can't be viewed. The best solution, then, is to simply remove all your hidden text as a last step before distributing your document. You can do this by using the Search and Replace features of Word, as follows:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click on the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Position the insertion point in Find What box and make sure it is empty.
  5. Click on the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Find Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Find Font dialog box.

  7. Click on the Hidden attribute check box until it has a solid black check mark in it. (You may have to click it more than once.)
  8. Click on OK. The Find Font dialog box disappears and the words "Format: Hidden" should appear just below the Find What box.
  9. Make sure the Replace With box is empty.
  10. Click on Replace All.

If you find yourself stripping out hidden text quite a bit, you can automate the process by recording a macro that performs the above steps, or you can use the following macro:

Sub StripAllHidden()
    Dim rngsStories As Word.StoryRanges
    Dim rngStory As Word.Range

    On Error GoTo NoDocOpen
        Set rngsStories = ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
    On Error GoTo 0

    'Need to loop through all 'stories' to
    'remove hidden text from footnotes, headers,
    'etc. as well as body text.

    For Each rngStory In rngsStories
        With rngStory.Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Font.Hidden = True
            Call .Execute(vbNullString, False, False, False, _
                False, False, True, wdFindContinue, True, _
                ReplaceWith:=vbNullString, _
                    Replace:=wdReplaceAll)
        End With
    Next
    Exit Sub
NoDocOpen:
End Sub

The other advantage of using this macro is that it will also look for hidden text in places where the regular Search and Replace function won't: footnotes, endnotes, headers, footers, etc.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (625) 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: Protecting Hidden Text.

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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