Word - Show hidden formatting - Pilcrow

Displaying hidden formatting

Word has many formatting symbols which are not immediately obvious and are hidden from view by default.
The following formatting options have no visibility unless the  button is selected:
  • Section breaks,
  • Page breaks,
  • Soft and Hard carriage returns
  • Basically, any formatting that's not applied to text directly...
While your typing your document, generally the pilcrow (¶) shouldn't be enabled by default. However, you can enable this view to check what formatting is in use on a pre-existing document so you can replicate it or modify it. As well as to see clearer where you are entering hidden formatting yourself.

How to use Show/Hide - ¶

Here we have a standard document before the Pilcrow is enabled:  Illustrative image

For instance, in the example above there are several types of breaks used in the text, which are totally invisible to us at this stage. To enable the "show hidden formatting symbols" you can click this button found in the Home tab: Illustrative image

Once the pilcrow ¶ button has been enabled the page should look like this:  Illustrative image

As you can see, there are now hidden formatting symbols shown. There are also extra lines mentioning both a section break and page break which were invisible before. 

Here is a table of symbols and their meanings:

 Tabbed Characters



 Paragraph Marks


 Hidden Text


 Optional hyphens

 Object Anchors

.....page break.....

 Page Breaks

....Section break....

 Section breaks

Tab characters    

Display tab characters as arrows.

Display spaces between words as dots.

Paragraph marks    
Display the ends of paragraphs where a carriage return (Enter key) has been used with the paragraph symbol.

Hidden text    
Display a dotted line under text that is formatted as hidden.

Optional hyphens    
Display hyphens that indicate where to divide a word at the end of a line. Optional hyphens are not printed unless a word actually breaks at the end of a line. When a word breaks at the end of the line, the optional hyphen is printed as a regular hyphen.

Object anchors    
Display object anchors, which indicate that an object is attached to a specific paragraph.

Optional breaks   
Control where a word or phrase breaks if it falls at the end of a line. If you use Word with an East Asian language, this option prevents the incorrect breaking of text. This option is available only if an East Asian language is enabled for editing text.

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