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Using Text Boundaries

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Using Text Boundaries.

If you work often in Print Layout view, you may find text boundaries helpful. These are dotted lines that appear in your document to mark the limits of text elements. For instance, when you use text boundaries, dotted lines appear around the margins of your text, as well as around headers, footers, footnotes, etc.

To control the display of text boundaries, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the options until you see the Show Document Content section. (You'll need to scroll down a ways.) (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Use the Show Text Boundaries check box to control whether Word uses text boundaries or not. Click on the check box to turn the feature on and off; a check in the box means it is enabled.
  6. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8840) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Using Text Boundaries.

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Comments for this tip:

Andrew    05 Nov 2015, 17:33
The increase in the number of text boundaries is to do with the new file formats more than with the new version of word. It seems every paragraph sits within its own boundary, as opposed to the page within a boundary.

For me, at least, this only occurs when the file format is .docx

If you save the same file as .doc then the result is the same as you are familiar with from previous versions of Word (presumably where the .docx file format was not available).
Frustrated no more    30 Oct 2015, 18:09
Perfect!!! The text box boundaries were driving me crazy when I updated from Word 2007 to 2015 (for Mac).
Your explanation helped me find it by going to Word, Preferences, View, and from there could uncheck that sneaky little Text Boundaries box.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Cindy    03 Oct 2015, 14:28
Ethan Hack,
How do you save in Compatiblility Mode? I'm not seeing that option.
Ethan Hack    02 Oct 2015, 09:39
Solution to the cursor problem: change the cursor thickness from 1 to 2. Control Panel - Ease of Access Center - Make the computer easier to see - Set the thickness of the blinking cursor. Should work for Windows 7, 8 and 10 (can also be done through Settings in Windows 10).
Ethan Hack    02 Oct 2015, 09:24
The text boundaries are displayed as in Word 2010 if you save a document in Compatibility Mode. However, the cursor is still invisible at the beginning of a line when text boundaries are shown, which I find particularly unhelpful when I want to put text onto a blank line. Thank you to Jenny O: I was relieved (in a way) to learn that the problem isn't just mine.
Jenny O    28 Sep 2015, 13:34
Like the others I'm having a problem dealing with the 'new' text boundaries. Also, I can't see the cursor when text boundaries are enabled, which is very annoying.
Please fix soon! Thank you
Janice Harris    04 Sep 2015, 13:56
I agree with everyone above. It is very hard on the eyes when working, yet I need to see the basic text boundary when doing layout. The continual lines for every paragraph return is very annoying. Microsoft, please fix this problem.
Paul Stregevsky (formerly Maryland, USA)    25 Jun 2015, 09:20
I'd also like to be able to add
Show Text Boundaries" to my Quick Access Toolbar, as I can do with Show Table Gridlines.
Julie    24 Jun 2015, 07:57
I'm so glad to read everyone's comments. I thought I was the only one with this problem. I hope they sort it out soon. I've never worked without a text boundary and I find it so frustrating!
Cindy    18 Jan 2015, 14:48
Come on, Microsoft, surely you have the capability and resources to correct this text boundary flub up!
figjamgle    18 Jan 2015, 02:48
hello dailyangel50
have never been able to live without text boundaries = ON until Office 2013
WHY won't they fix this issue????
Rao    14 Dec 2014, 12:32
Multiple text boundaries in word 2013 is really disgusting. Whether MS did this intentionally or unintentionally it is not in good taste to remove the single text boundary for each page. Fixing the text boundary as was available in earlier versions is highly solicited
Cindy    08 Nov 2014, 20:10
The quicker they fix the text boundary line in Word 2013 the better! It is extremely annoying and pointless the way it appears now.
Cheryl    07 Nov 2014, 12:47
I too have the same problem in 2013. I loved the "around the outside" text boundaries, but can't work with the line-by-line boundaries in 2013. If there's a way to get just the outside line back, please let me know!!
Mary Ann Sandoval    31 Jul 2014, 04:41
I do agree with dailyangel50. I am annoyed with how text boundary line works with 2013. The option was very useful to me then in 2010 version, but now I have a hard time working with text boundary because I see so many lines :(

I hope this will be fix.
dailyangel50    28 Feb 2014, 00:12
I was just given Word 2013 at work and the text boundaries are not the same as they were in earlier versions of Word (2007 & 2010).

It has become a nightmare! Now EVERY LINE of text is underlined, instead of just the page border (unless you are in compatibility mode). You can't tell if you are looking at a table or standard text anymore, and you can no longer see your cursor along the margins edge, due to it being the same shade as the text boundary line.

These issues make it impossible to work with the text boundaries being left turned on. Since I do rely heavily on them, I have been using a macro (applied to my quick access toolbar)to toggle the text boundaries on and off, since it would have been too time consuming going in and out of the options to turn it on and off, again and again.

I wish Microsoft would fix this issue because the option is very useful when designing templates and I prefer to leave it on, but it just doesn't work well at all in 2013.

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