Hide or show paragraph marks and hidden formatting symbols in Word 2010

By default, Word 2010 will only display the text, spaces, tabs, and paragraphs as blocks of letters and lines, separated by the appropriate amount of space; in some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between a single space or two spaces following a period, for example, especially when you are using a narrow font like Arial, or Arial Narrow. Another problem is differentiating between two blank lines (forced line returns with the Shift+Enter keyboard shortcut) from an actual paragraph. Microsoft Word includes a special feature that allows you to visualize this "metadata" by showing paragraph marks and hidden formatting symbols in your document; this doesn't change the content of your documents, it is only a temporary artifice that is displayed in "overlay" to your text; here's an example:
Paragraph marks and hidden formatting symbols in Word 2010 Notice that the same line displays extra information; this tutorial explains how to hide or show paragraph marks (at end of line) and other hidden formatting symbols in your Word 2010 documents!


Display formatting & paragraph symbols

To show these symbols in your document, look at the ribbon ("toolbar") at the top of the Microsoft Word window, and make sure that the "Home" tab is selected. Under the "Paragraph" tab grouping, you'll see a button with the paragraph sign on it, as shown below; click on it:
Show paragraph and formatting symbols in your document As soon as you do, Word 2010 will "highlight" the button's background to indicate that the feature is currently enabled, and you'll see formatting marks and paragraph symbols throughout your document. If the button shows that it is turned on, but nothing happens (assuming that your document contains some text), please see the next section - it probably just means that some marks have been disabled!

Tip: if you often find yourself hiding and showing paragraph symbols and other formatting marks as you write your papers, Word 2010 offers a convenient keyboard shortcut; press the Ctrl+* keystroke to toggle on/off. (In other words, press the Ctrl key, Shift key, and the number 8 simultaneously.)

You may not always want to show all these (potentially distracting) symbols on screen, so Word 2010 offers an option to always show only some of them, as explained below:

Always show (some) formatting symbols

Showing and hiding these symbols as needed may quickly become tedious, which is why you can configure Word to show some of them at all times: click on the "File" menu / button in the top left corner of the window, and choose "Options". Then, select the "Display" tab on the left hand side.

The selected symbols, if any, should now appear all the time in your documents, and toggling the show/hide paragraph & formatting marks symbol will only show or hide the remaining ones! This also includes other non-printing symbols like page breaks and section breaks.

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