Peaceful : image source- you get a word document sent to you that looks badly laid out with things not sitting quite where they should be. When you try to correct them or add extra words the whole thing goes badly wrong? Well I’m presuming that you don’t use or possibly don’t know about the non-printing characters or Show /Hide tool.

My students, even on a high-level course in Word, are nearly always amazed that this exists. They often ask how they didn’t know about it. It’s another tool on the Home tab. Who has time to investigate each and every tool on any tab? Probably no one. This brings me nicely to say that I believe that everyone should attend courses on each and every application they use starting at the beginning and going as far as they possibly can. A good trainer will teach you some lovely “tricks” that make your life using the application a joy not a struggle.

What are Non-printing Characters?

The tool is found in the Paragraph section on the Home tab. Peacefull : image soiurce- do not need to have this on all the time. It is useful to see how the text has been placed onto a page and this tool shows you.

Here is an example of badly laid out document. Bad DocumentSo why are those words where they are and why don’t the items in the list line up under each other?

Turn on the non-printing character tool. Paragraph mark

This is what the document looks like. Reveal 1

As you can see the person who created this document does not know how to use tabs.

They did not notice that they pressed the spacebar at the beginning of new lines (known as paragraphs in Word).

Also, they tried to line up the words in the list but failed to make it look good.

They used the enter key to create space between paragraphs.

They need to read my tip on Tabs in Word. This shows you how to make any font you like for a list to line up under each other effortlessly.

They also need to read my tip on paragraph spacing which is in the Setting defaults for Word Documents

Having found out how the document is put together you can now very easily remove the badly used parts and replace them with correct settings.

Here is the same document corrected. With the non-printing characters showing, which you can then turn off and save your document so that when you send it to someone, they don’t get alarmed at the characters they don’t recognise sitting there. All is well, and amending this document in the future will be a breeze. Corrected and revealed

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