GWKB1030 : Turning Off Formatting Marks in Microsoft Word

Product: Microsoft Word
Author: Aaron Smith
Date Added: 01/24/2006
Last Modified: 01/24/2006

If you find that arrowing through text in a Microsoft Word document results in the word "bullet" spoken between each word, or the word "paragraph" spoken at the end of each line, you are listening to what Microsoft Word calls formatting marks.

Formatting marks consist of tab characters, spaces, paragraph marks, hidden text, and optional hyphens. When these formatting marks are enabled, Microsoft Word will place symbols in place of each option. For example, spaces will become visible bullets. Having spaces represented as visible characters (rather than white space) makes determining the number of spaces between two characters easy for sighted people.

To disable formatting marks in Microsoft Word, do the following:

(Note: These steps were written for Microsoft Word 2003. While the steps to turn off formatting marks may be different in other versions of Microsoft Word, the concept is the same.)

  1. While in Microsoft Word, press ALT-T for Tools.
  2. Press O to open the Options Dialog.
  3. If the View tab control is not already selected, SHIFT-TAB once, and ARROW RIGHT until you have selected View.
  4. TAB to the Tab Characters check box, and press SPACE BAR to uncheck (you may also press ALT-T).
  5. TAB to the Spaces check box, and press SPACE BAR to uncheck (you may also press ALT-S).
  6. TAB to the Paragraph Marks check box, and press SPACE BAR to uncheck (you may also press ALT-M).
  7. TAB to the Hidden Text check box, and press SPACE BAR to uncheck (you may also press ALT-I).
  8. TAB to the Optional Hyphens check box, and press SPACE BAR to uncheck (you may also press ALT-Y).
  9. TAB to the OK button, and press ENTER.

While tabbing around this options dialog, you may have noticed an All check box in formatting marks group. The all check box controls all of the formatting marks, and overrides any of the previous check boxes. In other words, if the Spaces check box is unchecked, but the All check box is checked, then spaces will be replaced with bullets. To ensure that all space formatting marks are cleared, uncheck both the Spaces check box, and the All check box.