How to Display Non-Printing Characters in Word

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 by

When working on a document in Microsoft Word, you may come across invisible characters that can affect the formatting and layout of your text. These non-printing characters, also known as hidden characters, can be difficult to spot and can cause confusion when editing your document. In this article, we will discuss how to display non-printing characters in Word and how it can help improve your document’s appearance.

What are Non-Printing Characters?

Non-printing characters are symbols or characters that do not appear on the printed page but are used to format and structure your document. These characters can include spaces, tabs, paragraph marks, and other formatting symbols. They are essential for creating a well-organized and visually appealing document, but they can also cause issues if not properly managed.

Why Display Non-Printing Characters?

By default, non-printing characters are hidden in Word, making them invisible to the user. However, displaying these characters can be beneficial for several reasons. First, it allows you to see the structure of your document and identify any formatting errors. For example, if you notice a paragraph mark in the middle of a sentence, it could indicate an extra line break that is affecting the layout of your text.

Additionally, displaying non-printing characters can help you troubleshoot issues with your document. For instance, if you are having trouble with the spacing or alignment of your text, you can check for hidden characters that may be causing the problem. By identifying and removing these characters, you can ensure that your document looks polished and professional.

How to Display Non-Printing Characters in Word

To display non-printing characters in Word, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open your Word document.
  2. Click on the “Home” tab in the ribbon.
  3. In the “Paragraph” section, click on the symbol that looks like a backwards “P” (¶). This is the “Show/Hide” button.
  4. Non-printing characters will now be visible in your document.

You can also use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + Shift + 8” to toggle the display of non-printing characters on and off.

Managing Non-Printing Characters

Now that you can see non-printing characters in your document, you may want to remove or modify them. To do this, simply click on the character and press the “Delete” key on your keyboard. You can also use the “Find and Replace” function to search for specific non-printing characters and replace them with something else.

It is important to note that some non-printing characters, such as paragraph marks, are necessary for proper formatting and should not be removed. However, if you are unsure about a particular character, you can always consult Microsoft’s support page for a list of non-printing characters and their functions.


Displaying non-printing characters in Word can help you identify and fix formatting issues in your document. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily toggle the display of these characters on and off and manage them as needed. This simple tool can greatly improve the appearance and readability of your document, making it a valuable skill for any Word user.

Have you ever encountered issues with non-printing characters in Word? Let us know in the comments.

Gulrukh Ch

About the Author: Gulrukh Ch

Gulrukh Chaudhary, an accomplished digital marketer and technology writer with a passion for exploring the frontiers of innovation. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology, Gulrukh seamlessly blends her technical prowess with her creative flair, resulting in captivating insights into the world of emerging technologies. Discover more about her on her LinkedIn profile.