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 Nonprinting Characters.

Displaying Nonprinting Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 24, 2020)

1

There are several different characters, such as a space and tab, which Word does not normally display on the screen. In addition, there are several special characters that Word uses for housekeeping purposes. For instance, Word uses special characters to indicate the end of a line or the end of a paragraph. You can display these special characters, which Word refers to as nonprinting characters, by using some of the choices in the Options dialog box. To do this, 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. In the Nonprinting Characters area (Word 97) or Formatting Marks area (Word 2000, Word 2002, and Word 2003), select the characters you want Word to display.
  5. Click on OK.

Why would you want to display these characters? Quite simply because it is much easier to understand spacing when the characters are displayed. You can quickly tell, for instance, when you have inserted two spaces between words or added an extra carriage return. This allows you to more accurately control the look of your document and what it contains.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1048) 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 Nonprinting Characters.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Can't Open a Word Document in Windows

Double-click on a Word document while using Windows Explorer, and the Word program should start with the document ...

Discover More

Expanding a Custom Dictionary

Does Word tell you that your custom dictionary is full? It might not actually be full, but even if it is you can add ...

Discover More

End-of-Month Calculations

Don't want to use the EOMONTH function to figure out the end of a given month? Here are some other ideas for discovering ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Capitalizing the First Letter after a Colon

There are many rules in English grammar (and many exceptions to those rules.) One common rule of grammar is to capitalize ...

Discover More

Pasting Clean Text

One of the most helpful tools in Word is the ability to paste straight text into a document. This is used so much on my ...

Discover More

Deleting a Range of Pages

Need to delete a range of pages out of the middle of your document? It's easy to do using editing techniques you already ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five less than 7?

2015-10-31 22:31:27

Andy

I find it much easier to use the show/hide icon that I show in my toolbar. If you edit documents a lot it is worth the time to put this icon in your toolbar that is always on display.


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.