How to Use Nonprinting Characters in Microsoft Word

You can display nonprinting characters, such as spaces, tabs, and paragraph marks, in Microsoft Word 97 and Word 2000 (for PC) and Word 98 (for Macintosh). These characters allow you to see if you've typed tabs or spaces; they also show where every line break occurs.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Word (for Mac)


    • 1

      Go to the Tools menu.

    • 2

      Choose Preferences or Options.

    • 3

      Click the View tab.

    • 4

      Go to the "Nonprinting characters" or "Formatting marks" section in the window and select the checkboxes for the nonprinting characters you want to display or hide: tabs, spaces, paragraph marks, optional hyphens, and hidden text.

Tips & Warnings

  • Nonprinting characters do not print, even when they are visible on the screen.
  • Tabs are represented by right-pointing arrows, spaces by dots, and line breaks by a fancy backward-facing "P".
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