How to Show (and Hide) Invisible Characters like Paragraph Marks in Microsoft Word on a Mac

Every time you press a space bar, tab key, or return key, as well as when you add a column break, page break, or section break, formatting symbols (called invisibles) are added. In Microsoft Word, invisible characters serve as formatting marks, which are used to display the layout of a document. They are hidden by default, but you can turn them on to see where formatting changes have been made. They can be hidden again when you are done with them.

Why Should You Use Hidden Text?

There are certainly many times when you can make use of hidden text in your everyday work, but if you’re not sure, here are some great examples.

• You do not have to use two copies of the document if you create a test or quiz in Word. Simply hide the answers from the students.

• You can include your notes right next to your points in a document such as a report or proposal. Using this technique, you could print out a document that you would like to distribute to an audience, but make a copy of your own version with notes.

• When you want to print a document without displaying some text in it, you can use hidden text (but don’t turn on printing hidden text).

How to Hide Text in Microsoft Word on Mac

  1. Select the text you wish to hide.
  2. Choose Font by right-clicking the mouse or by clicking Format in the menu bar.
  3. Check the Hidden box.
  4. Tap OK.

How to view hidden text on Mac

In the Home tab, you can see hidden text. In Microsoft Word, this is the toolbar button you can use to turn invisible on and off.

The only thing you have to do is click the icon in the toolbar to reveal the hidden characters; click the icon again to hide them.

In the settings you can simply check a box to display your hidden text without formatting symbols.

Go to the Word menu bar and select Preferences.

Select View.

Select the Hidden text check box under Show Non-Printing Characters.

You can now close the preferences window.

When you’re ready to present or share your document, make sure to uncheck this box once more.

Paragraph Markings

How to Print a Document with Hidden Text on a Mac

For confidentiality reasons, you may want to print a copy of the hidden text for yourself as well as another copy without it for others.

Go to the Word menu bar and select Preferences.

Select Print.

Select the Hidden text checkbox under Include in Print Version. Now print the document.

To print the next version of your document with hidden text, uncheck that box. Then print.

What You Need to Know About Hidden Text in Word

Hidden text in Word is ideal for printing documents. It conceals what you’ve hidden from the audience. However, if you share your document digitally, your recipient or audience will be able to see the hidden text using the same methods you did.

For the reasons stated above, you should probably avoid using it for sensitive or personally identifiable information because hiding the text does not make it secure.