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: Symbols for Non-Printing Characters.

Symbols for Non-Printing Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 22, 2017)


When David uses the Show/Hide tool to display the non-printing characters in a document, he finds it helpful in figuring out formatting. By now he knows the meanings of many of the characters that are used to represent non-printing characters (paragraph, space, tab, etc.). There are other characters, however, that he can only guess at, like the degree symbol in place of some spaces or the tiny filled-in square that he thinks is something to do with orphan paragraphs and keeping things together. David wonders if there is a comprehensive list of all the non-printing character symbols and their meanings.

There are several places on the Web where you can find good information about Word's non-printing characters. Perhaps the best one available, however, is the one at the Word MVP site. Here's the article:

The article is quite comprehensive, and it includes images that show what the symbol for each non-printing character looks like.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9405) 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: Symbols for Non-Printing 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. ...


AutoFill Won't Work as Expected

AutoFill is a great tool for filling cells with data. What do you do when it doesn't work like you expect, however? ...

Discover More

Changing the Insertion Point Cursor

Want to change the characteristics of the insertion point used by Word? You may be out of luck, unless you make some ...

Discover More

Changing Vertical Cell Alignment

If you have a large row height, you may want to adjust how the information in a cell is aligned vertically. Sheets allows ...

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)

Using ASCII and ANSI Characters

Word natively supports several types of character sets. The most common characters sets are known as ASCII and ANSI ...

Discover More

Plain Text Pasting as the Default

Pasting 'plain text" into a document is one of the most common ways of pasting information. Wouldn't it be great if this ...

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

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 8?

2017-04-22 10:33:46

Henry Noble

Try this link instead:

2017-04-22 05:58:15

Steve Wells

The provided link in this tip is no longer valid.

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

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.