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: Hiding and Displaying Hidden Text.

Hiding and Displaying Hidden Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 1, 2015)

Hidden text is text that has the hidden attribute applied. In Word, hidden is a text attribute just like italics or bold. You can control whether hidden text is displayed or printed. When the display of hidden text is turned off, the text is not deleted, its display is simply suppressed—it is not shown. When you later display hidden text, it will all be displayed again.

To turn off the display of hidden text on the screen, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure View tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The View tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Click the Hidden Text check box. Make sure it is empty.
  5. Click on OK.

To later display hidden text, follow the same steps, but make sure the Hidden Text check box (step 3) is selected.

You can also control the display of hidden text (along with all other non-printing characters) by clicking on the Show/Hide tool on the toolbar. (This is the tool that contains the paragraph symbol; it looks like a backwards P.)

Turning off the display of hidden text presents a danger that you need to be aware of, however. When you turn it off, it doesn't show up at all on your screen. This makes it very easy to delete hidden text without even realizing it. This is especially true if you delete larger blocks of text, such as entire paragraphs.

The best way to guard against this is to make sure hidden text is always displayed when you are developing or editing your document. In this way you can be certain you won't inadvertently delete hidden text.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1645) 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: Hiding and Displaying 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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