How to Show the Formatting Marks in Word: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

how to show the formatting marks in word

Formatting marks in Word can be incredibly helpful for those who want to see the unseen elements in their document, such as spaces, paragraph breaks, and tabs. To show these formatting marks, all you need to do is navigate to the Home tab and click on the Paragraph Marks button. This will display all the hidden formatting symbols, making it easier to edit your document accurately.

How to Show the Formatting Marks in Word

Want to make sure your document is perfectly formatted? Showing the formatting marks in Word will help you do just that. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you accomplish this.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word

First things first, open your Microsoft Word application.

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because you can’t show formatting marks if Word isn’t open. Make sure your document is also open, or create a new document if you’re starting from scratch.

Step 2: Navigate to the Home Tab

Next, head over to the Home tab in the ribbon at the top of the screen.

The Home tab is your central hub for many of Word’s primary functions, including formatting, font styles, and paragraphs. You’ll find various icons and options here.

Step 3: Find the Paragraph Marks Button

Look for the Paragraph Marks button, which looks like a backward ‘P’ (¶).

This button is usually located near the middle or right side of the Home tab. It’s easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for.

Step 4: Click the Paragraph Marks Button

Click on the Paragraph Marks button to display the formatting marks.

When you click this button, you’ll suddenly see all the hidden formatting symbols in your document. These can include spaces (represented by dots), paragraph breaks (¶), and tabs (arrows).

Step 5: Review the Displayed Formatting Marks

Take a look at your document to see all the formatting marks now visible.

This will help you understand the layout of your document much better. You can see where extra spaces are, identify where paragraphs start and end, and spot any rogue tabs that might be messing up your formatting.

Once you’ve clicked the paragraph marks button, your Word document will now display all the invisible characters that control the formatting. These marks will help you edit your document more precisely, allowing for a polished and professional final product.

Tips for Displaying Formatting Marks in Word

  • Toggle On and Off: You can easily toggle the formatting marks on and off by clicking the Paragraph Marks button again. It’s a quick way to switch between views.
  • Shortcut: Use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + 8 to show or hide the formatting marks without navigating to the Home tab.
  • Editing: If you notice extra spaces or paragraph breaks, you can easily delete them to clean up your document.
  • Customize: Go to File > Options > Display to customize which marks you want to see, if you don’t need to see all of them.
  • Helpful for Printing: Remember, these marks won’t appear on printed documents, so don’t worry about them cluttering your final printout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I see the Paragraph Marks button?

If you can’t find the Paragraph Marks button, ensure that you’re on the Home tab. The icon looks like a backward ‘P’ (¶) and is usually located in the Paragraph section.

Will formatting marks appear in printed documents?

No, formatting marks are for your editing convenience only. They won’t show up on printed documents or in PDF versions.

Can I choose which formatting marks to display?

Yes, you can customize which marks to display by going to File > Options > Display and selecting your preferences.

How do I hide the formatting marks again?

Simply click the Paragraph Marks button (¶) again or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + 8 to hide them.

Are there formatting marks for other elements like footnotes or endnotes?

Formatting marks primarily show spaces, tabs, and paragraph breaks. They don’t show elements like footnotes or endnotes directly, but they help in managing those elements better.


  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Navigate to the Home Tab.
  3. Find the Paragraph Marks Button.
  4. Click the Paragraph Marks Button.
  5. Review the Displayed Formatting Marks.


Understanding how to show formatting marks in Word can be a game-changer for anyone looking to polish their document to perfection. These hidden symbols reveal the backbone of your document’s structure, making it easier to spot and fix any formatting issues. Whether you’re a student writing an essay, a professional preparing a report, or just someone who loves tidy documents, knowing how to display these marks can save you a lot of hassle.

If you found this guide helpful, why not explore some of Word’s other handy features? You might find tools that can further streamline your document creation process. So go ahead, give it a try, and see how much easier editing can be!

Feel free to leave a comment or question below if you need more help or have any tips of your own. Happy formatting!