Show or hide formatting marks

Formatting marks are used to assist with text layout in your documents. You might find them more useful when you are designing content with a specific look — or layout — in mind.

This topic shows how to use formatting marks, like dots (for spaces) or arrows (for tab characters), in Microsoft Word or Publisher.

Turn formatting marks on or off

  1. To show formatting marks, choose Home > Show/Hide.

    The Show/Hide icon is highlighted on the Home tab.

  2. To hide them, choose Home > Show/Hide again.

Turn on or off selected formatting marks in Word

You can decide which formatting marks you want the Show/Hide button to hide. For example, you can hide tab characters and hidden text when Show/Hide is turned off, but display paragraphs and spaces at all times.

  1. In Word, click File > Options > Display.

  2. Under Always show these formatting marks on the screen, check the boxes for any formatting marks you want to see even when Show/Hide is turned off.

    Always show or hide formatting symbols

Turn off squiggly lines

The red squiggly lines in Word or Publisher indicate potential spelling or grammar errors. The blue squiggly lines indicate words that might be incorrect in their context—a “pear” of shoes versus a “pair” of shoes, or “there” report versus “their” report.

To turn off the squiggly lines, do the following:

  1. Click File > Options > Proofing.

  2. Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, or When correcting spelling in Publisher, or uncheck the boxes for the items you want to turn off.

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