How to Reveal non-printing characters in Word - Photo by Jay Zhang on UnsplashThere are many times I receive documents with a strange layout of text. There are many reasons that this might happen. The sender of the document could well have created it in another application instead of Word. Then simply saved it as a document before sending it to me. Or even used features that are in Word without understanding that they had. How many of us press the wrong key? For instance, the CTRL key instead of the Shift key, or the Caps Lock key instead of the Shift key.

If I were not to investigate this and just use the text I received in my publications, I could well end up with weird layout or extra spacing or even a paragraph return in the publication result. Different applications have their own way of “creating” text. When you pour text into something like WordPress, that in turn translates the text in different ways when it comes from different sources, you get different results. Not always favourable.

For instance, I receive documents that have a floating “o” instead of a space. This results in a different size of space when copied into Word Press. Example bellow.

How do I know this? I use the reveal paragraph marks when I receive the document.

You’ll find this in the Paragraph section in the Home Tab. Paragraph section

I use this tool often but not all the time, only when I need to see how things were set by someone else or if I used the spacebar too many times. This tool shows the following: List of images

Knowing these exist and then finding them in your text can really help to solve the mystery of why text sits on the page the way it does.

Use this tool to find these characters and then remove them or modify them or even duplicate them in other places for the same effect.

So, the list above has revealed that the floating “o” is in fact a non-breaking space. Meaning that the two words either side of it will stay on the same line and not break if there isn’t enough space on that line, possibly resulting in a large end of line white space. But then the creator obviously had a need for this. Formatting marks Setting

I have also seen many documents where someone has used the tab key unknowingly and resulted in a massive space. This would not be easy to remove without knowing about this tool, and showing how the text was created. Or even worse someone who uses the spacebar instead of the tab key.

How to set display options

Should you wish these non-printing characters to show all the time without using the tool go to the options in the File Tab, in the Display section you will find this.

Options display

The default as you can see is the anchor used for objects such as pictures. You can tick the boxes you require to always show the characters you desire. This defaults the tool to be active when you start Word. Therefore, you can hide the characters by clicking on the tool whenever you need to.

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