Nonprinting Formatting Marks In Word

Nonprinting formatting marks show you where certain kinds of formatting have been applied in your Word document. For example, you can see where the tab key has been pressed and where a page break has been inserted.

Formatting marks are not visible by default, and they do not appear when your document is printed. However, you can easily switch them on and they are an invaluable tool if you need to resolve any formatting issues you might have in your document.

To make nonprinting formatting characters visible, either click the Show/Hide paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols button (see image below), or press ctrl-shift-8. This actually toggles the display, so you can hide them again by repeating this action.

Show/Hide Formatting Marks

Controlling Formatting Marks In Word Options

If you click the File tab > Options > Display, you can see a series of checkboxes that help you control what formatting marks you see.

Word Options - Formatting Marks

Click to enlarge


Their use is not intuitive and it goes something like this:

  • if you put a check in the Show all formatting marks box and click OK, you will see all formatting marks in your document. This is like clicking on the Show formatting marks button in the ribbon . If you go back and uncheck that box, it hides all formatting marks and is the same as toggling them off using the Show formatting marks button again.
  • if you put a check in any of the other formatting boxes, those kinds of formatting will display all the time – whether you have toggled the Show formatting marks button on or off.
  • you might have guessed that the Show all formatting marks check box in Word Options is pretty much redundant because we have a much easier tool to use on the ribbon that does the same thing: the Show formatting marks button .

You know what? I just wouldn’t change the Word Options from their default settings.

What Do The Formatting Marks Mean In Word 2010?

Now that we’ve seen how to turn on and off the display of formatting marks, let’s find out what they all mean.

Formatting Mark Meaning
pilcrow paragraph mark (pilcrow)
Line Break Formatting Mark line break
Text Wrapping Break
Column Break Column Break
Page Break Page Break
Section Break (Continuous) Continuous Section Break
Line And Page Break Line and Page Break
. Space
° Nonbreaking Space
? Tab
¬ Conditional Hyphen
¤ End Of Cell Marker (tables)
anchor Anchor