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: Shortcut for Show/Hide.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 21, 2018)
Word has a number of non-printing characters that it commonly uses in a document. These characters include spaces, tabs, paragraph marks, and a few other such characters. When you are editing and formatting documents, it is often useful to view these characters, as they can affect the appearance of your document.
The normal way to display the non-printing characters is to click on the Show/Hide tool (it looks like it has a backwards P on it). If you are loathe to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to use the mouse, you might want to memorize a quick little shortcut: Ctrl+* (that's the asterisk), which can also be written as Shift+Ctrl+8. This shortcut key toggles the Show/Hide tool on and off.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3456) 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: Shortcut for Show/Hide.
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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.