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: Quickly Displaying Formatting Specs.

Quickly Displaying Formatting Specs

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 6, 2016)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


There may be times when you want to quickly determine what the formatting is that is applied to either a character or a paragraph. Word allows you to quickly view this information by following these steps if you are using Word 97 or Word 2000:

  1. Press Shift+F1 or choose What's This? from the Help menu. This causes the mouse pointer to change to an arrow with a question mark beside it.
  2. Point to the character or paragraph in question and click the mouse button.

Word displays a "balloon" that looks like the dialog balloons used in some cartoons. The balloon contains detailed information about the formatting of the character you pointed to, as well as the paragraph in which the character appears. You now have two options:

  • Click on a different character to see more formatting information.
  • Press Esc to make the balloons go away and return the mouse pointer to normal.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, simply select some text or place the insertion point within a word. Press Shift+F1 and the Reveal Formatting pane appears at the right side of the screen. This pane shows the formatting applied to the text you select in the main portion of the screen. When you are done reviewing the information in the Reveal Formatting pane, you can close it just as you would any other pane.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1134) 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: Quickly Displaying Formatting Specs.

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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