View Special Characters and Formatting in 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.
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9 Responses to “View Special Characters and Formatting in Word”

  1. February 02, 2009 at 7:04 pm, Tony said:

    Perfect solution, Thank you


  2. March 02, 2009 at 5:26 pm, Rebekah said:

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


  3. August 20, 2009 at 9:45 am, Anonymous said:

    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.


  4. June 06, 2011 at 7:30 am, iphone application development said:

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


  5. October 12, 2011 at 12:15 am, Mousa said:

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


  6. November 11, 2011 at 7:07 am, Persuasive Essay Outline said:

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


  7. February 06, 2012 at 12:28 pm, Claude-Fregeau said:

    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.


  8. August 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm, Noel Allen said:

    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!


  9. January 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm, Mike Anitas said:

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


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