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: The Line that Won't Go Away.

The Line that Won't Go Away

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)

Word, by default, takes some liberties with what you type. One such liberty is the adding of borders to paragraphs based on what you type. For instance, if you type three underlines on a new line, and then press Enter, you get a solid line that extends the width of your document. This is not the only three characters that result in this type of replacement—characters for lines—but if you don't know the source of the line, it can be frustrating.

This feature of Word is controlled by following these steps:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect from the Tools menu. (Choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu if you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003.) Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Note the Borders checkbox. (In Word 2002 and Word 2003 it is called the Border Lines checkbox.) If cleared, Word does not automatically create lines; if it is selected, Word will behave as described earlier in this tip. Set the checkbox as desired.
  5. Click on OK.

Now that you know what causes the lines, you may be wondering how to get rid of them once they are in your document.

As with any AutoFormat that is applied by Word, you can undo the change by pressing Ctrl+Z right after the change is made. For instance, if you press three underlines and then Enter, Word changes the underlines to a line. You can undo this by immediately pressing Ctrl+Z.

If you later want to delete the line, there are two things you can do that will help you. First, remember that the "line" added by Word is really a paragraph border; it is not a real line. Second, you need to display Word's non-printing characters. (You do this by clicking on the Show/Hide tool on the toolbar, or by choosing Tools | Options | View tab, and clicking on All.)

Now you are ready to get rid of the lines. Start by positioning the insertion point at the beginning of the paragraph that has the border and pressing Ctrl+Q. This resets the paragraph's formatting back to its default, which usually does not include the border. If this does not do what you want, you can always select the entire paragraph that contains the border and simply delete it.

There is something else to remember when getting rid of borders created by AutoFormat: They can affect multiple paragraphs. For instance, consider the following scenario, which you can try in a document:

  1. On a blank line, enter three underlines and press Enter. Word converts them to a border underneath the paragraph.
  2. Press the Up Arrow once. This should place the insertion point at the beginning of the paragraph that now has the underline.
  3. Press Enter two times. It appears as if you have moved the underline down two lines, since the insertion point is still at the beginning of the paragraph that has the underline.
  4. Press Ctrl+Q. The underline appears to not go away, but jumps up a line.

Why did this happen? The reason is quite simple. Since the "line" is really a paragraph border, it appears at the bottom of the last paragraph that has that format. When you pressed Enter twice, in step 3, you ended up with three paragraphs, each formatted with a border underneath. However, Word only displays the border of the last paragraph formatted with that border, even though all three have it. (Word translates the border as one that appears under the group of like-formatted paragraphs, not one that appears under each individual paragraph.) When you performed step 4, the border was removed from the last of the three paragraphs, but it still remained on the other two. Thus, the border appeared to "jump up" a line. All that really happened was that Word dutifully displayed the bottom border on the last paragraph with that format, which now happens to be the second of the original three paragraphs.

To get rid of the border on all the paragraphs, you need to select all the paragraphs and press Ctrl+Q. If you don't want to do this (perhaps you don't want to remove some other explicit paragraph formatting you have), you can follow these steps:

  1. Select all the paragraphs in your document by pressing Ctrl+A.
  2. Choose Borders and Shading from the Format menu. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Borders tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Borders tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.

  5. Click on the None setting.
  6. Click on OK.

These steps remove all borders from all paragraphs and tables within the document. If there are some borders you really want to keep, then you should simply modify step 1 so that you select only those paragraphs that have borders you want to get rid of.

For more information on getting rid of stubborn lines that Word automatically adds to your document, see the following page at the Word MVP site:

http://wordmvp.com/FAQs/Formatting/CantGetRidOfLine.htm

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1918) 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: The Line that Won't Go Away.

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

Getting the Proper Type of Ellipses

Type three periods in a row, and the AutoCorrect feature in Word kicks in to exchange that sequence for a special ellipses ...

Discover More

Creating Custom Underlines

Word provides a wide assortment of underlines that you can apply to your text. If the assortment isn't wide enough for your ...

Discover More

Easily Changing Links in Documents

You may have a lot of linked images in a document, and then one day need to change the links if the location of the images ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Highlighting Information Using Shading

Need to draw attention to some text in your document? You can do it by applying some fast and easy shading to your text.

Discover More

Drop Shadows for Tables

When adding borders and shading to a document's elements, Word allows you to quickly add drop shadows to paragraphs, text ...

Discover More

Non-printing Page Borders

With your page border in place, you might be surprised if you don't see one side of the border (or all sides) print out with ...

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 for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

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.

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.

Links and Sharing
Share