MS Word: Making Tabs, Returns, Spaces, and All Those Hidden Formatting Symbols Visible

Have you ever had a document suddenly look really odd with lots of extra space where you didn’t want it?  When word processing first started, everything was visible:  spaces were little dots, tabs were little right-pointing arrows, returns or “enters” were that funny paragraph proofreader mark, “¶”.

When computer displays switched to WYSIWYG (which stands for “What You See Is What You Get” and is pronounced wiz-ee-wig) all those characters disappeared.  It was great on the eyes but not so great for making changes.

When you aren’t sure why your text looks the way it does, your first action should be to make these symbols visible.  On the Home ribbon, in the top right of the Paragraph section, hover your mouse over the paragraph proofreader mark, “¶”.

Show Hide

The command is called “Show/Hide.”  Click it.  In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, Lucy has to recite a spell, “To Make Hidden Things Visible.”  Think of the “¶” as this spell.Show Hide Marks

Now you can go through and delete the extra tabs, spaces, or returns to spruce up the look of your document.  When you are finished, click the “¶” again, to make the visible symbols hidden.

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