View Special Characters and Formatting in Word

Posted May 26, 2011 by Rob Rogers in Microsoft Word

View special characters and formatting codes in Word.

Sometimes Word will just format things oddly and it’s not really clear what is going on. Seeing the formatting codes will really help.

1. Go into the Format menu
2. Click Reveal Formatting
3. Under options in the Reveal Formatting window, select the Show all formatting marks check box.

Do this again to turn it off or just close the Reveal Formatting window.

Shortcut: SHIFT-F1 and then click on your text.

Word 2007/2010

1. Go to the Ribbon and select the Home tab.

2. Go to the Paragraph section of the Ribbon.

3. Select the Show/Hide button. Turn it off by selecting the Show/Hide button again.

If not all of the formatting marks disappear when you turn it off:

1. Click the File button .

2. Select Options.

3. From the left pane, select Display.

4. Find the Always show these formatting marks on the screen section and uncheck the corresponding checkmarks for the formatting marks.

5. Click the OK button.

Word for Mac 2008/2011


1. Click the Word menu
2. Click Preferences
3. Click View

select preferences and then view

4. Click All or your specific request under Nonprinting characters

view nonprinting characters on the mac

5. Click OK


1. Click the View menu
2. Click the Reveal Formatting selection

click view and then reveal formatting

3. Now click on the area to see the formatting of that area

click location to reveal the formatting


About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
View more articles by Rob Rogers

The Conversation

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  • Tony

    Perfect solution, Thank you

  • Rebekah

    beautiful. wish i’d known this trick when i was writing my dissertation

  • Anonymous

    Word 2007 is different from the earlier version. But if you press +, a window opens. There is a tickbox for ‘show formatting’. Just untick it.

  • iphone application development

    I have no idea about this function of MS word. Thanks for information about it and how to use it.

  • Mousa

    THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VERY HELPFUL

  • Persuasive Essay Outline

    Great tips for MS Word users. I haven’t had an idea of doing such things in Word.

  • Claude-Fregeau

    GREAT, At last, there is a way to see some formatting codes in MS-Word. Of course, they are not as easy and user friendly as those in Word Perfect X5 obtained with Alt-F3, but it is a start and a good one. Thanks again.

  • Noel Allen

    It’s been a long time since I accendently hit this button…Thanks for your clear and concise resolution. Too bad MS couldn’t implement this!

  • Mike Anitas

    Thank you so much. After several searches of MS ‘help’ on this topic with Mac Word 2011, your explanation did the job! You ROCK!