Have you ever noticed paragraph marks, dots, and arrows in your document and wondered what they were?  These are formatting marks.  They denote where you have a space (the dot), a line break (the paragraph mark) or a tab (the arrow).  They also show where page breaks and section breaks are.

Viewing formatting marks in your document can be useful, but in general, I’d rather not see them. If you’re ever trying to figure out how to turn them on or off, it’s as simple as clicking the Show/Hide button with the paragraph mark on  it (circled below).

Word 2007 and 2010

You’ll find the Show/Hide button can be found on the Home tab of the ribbon.

Outlook 2007 and 2010

When composing a new message, you’ll find the Show/Hide button on the Format Text tab of the ribbon.

Keyboard Shortcut

The keyboard shortcut to turn formatting marks on and off is Ctrl+Shift+8.

Show Specific Formatting Marks All the Time

But what if you want to view certain formatting marks, like the arrows that indicate a tab, all the time?  Or what if you hid formatting marks on the ribbon, and some of them are still showing?  You can select to always show some formatting marks.

  1. Open Word Options.
    • In Word 2007 go to the Office button and click the Word Options button.
    • In Word 2010 click on the File tab and click on the Options button.
  2. On the left side of the window, click Display.
  3. In the Always show these formatting marks on the screen section, check the boxes for marks you want to display, and uncheck boxes for marks you don’t want to see.
  4. Click OK.