Turn formatting marks on or off

When composing an email message, you might see some symbols within your text. These are actually formatting marks, such as dots (for spaces) or arrows (for tab characters) in Outlook. Formatting marks assist with text layout. They do not appear on a printed message.

These are the formatting characters available in email messages.

If you have tried but been unsuccessful using the Button image button to toggle formatting marks, you need to use the Display Editor Options dialog box described below to reset your display preferences.

When you turn formatting marks on or off, your choice remains in effect for all subsequent messages you compose, reply to, or forward.

Quickly toggle formatting marks

To turn formatting marks on or off, do the following:

  • In the message window, on the Format Text tab, in the Paragraph group, click the button that looks like a paragraph mark. (When you point your mouse at the button, the tooltip says Show/Hide ¶).

    The button for the 'Show/Hide Formatting Marks' command looks like a paragraph mark.

    Keyboard shortcut     CTRL+SHIFT+*. (You must use the asterisk on the 8 key.)

Two controls affect the visibility of formatting marks

Two different controls in Outlook 2016, 2013, and 2010 affect which formatting marks are visible when you compose an email message:



Editor Display options

These settings are always in effect. The only way to change them is in the dialog box.

The Show/Hide ¶ command on the ribbon

This quick command toggles the display of any formatting marks that aren't turned on in the Editor Display Options described above.

Toggle selected formatting marks

(Outlook 2016, 2013, and 2010) If you want certain formatting marks to always be visible, use Display Editor Options. The marks you turn on are not affected by the Show/Hide ¶ command on the ribbon.

  1. In Outlook, choose File > Options > Mail > Editor Options > Advanced >Display.

  2. Use the check boxes to specify the formatting marks that you want to be visible. Or use Show all formatting marks to make all marks visible all the time.

Editing a message with or without formatting marks is a personal preference. You might find them more useful when you are designing content with a specific look — or layout — in mind. Formatting marks are turned off by default in Microsoft Outlook.

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