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: X-ing Out Text.

X-ing Out Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 26, 2018)

4

Cindy asked if there is a way to "type over" words with a different character. In particular, she wanted to "x" out some characters. She doesn't want to do a strikethrough, but actually use the "x" character to type over characters already in the document.

The best way to do this in Word is to use EQ field with the \o (overtype) switch. Follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion pointer where you want the x-ed out text to appear.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9. Word inserts a set of field braces, with the insertion point in the middle of them.
  3. Type the following within the field braces:
     eq \o(my text,xxxxxxx)
  1. Replace "my text" with the text you want x-ed out, and make sure there are enough x characters to cover that text.
  2. Press Shift+F9 to collapse the field and display the result.

This field approach works great for short text selections, and you could always convert it into a macro if you have lots of text you want to affect in this manner. The following macro carries this concept even further—it displays the overtype x characters in red, and it doesn't overtype spaces:

Sub OverstrikeWithX2()
    Dim i As Integer
    MyString = Selection.Text

    ' Insertion point only/single character/multiple character range handler
    If Selection.Characters.Count = 1 Then
        Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, Extend:=wdExtend
        If Selection.Characters.Count = 2 Then
            Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=2, Extend:=wdExtend
        Else
            Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
        End If
    Else
        Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    End If
    ' end range handler

    For i = 1 To Len(MyString)
        Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, Extend:=wdExtend
        ' paragraph marker and space handler
        If Selection.Text = Chr(13) Or Selection.Text = " " Then
            While Selection.Text = Chr(13) Or Selection.Text = " "
                If i = Len(MyString) Then
                    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
                    Exit Sub
                Else
                    i = i + 1
                    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
                    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, _
                      Extend:=wdExtend
                End If
            Wend
        End If
        ' end paragraph marker & space handler

        With Selection
            .Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldEmpty, _
              PreserveFormatting:=False
            .TypeText Text:="eq \o("
            .MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
            .TypeText Text:=",x)"
            .Delete Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1

            ' The next three lines turns the overstike "x" red
            .MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
            .MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, Extend:=wdExtend
            .Font.Color = wdColorRed
            .Fields.ToggleShowCodes
            .MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
        End With
    Next i
End Sub

The macro adds a single field for each character being overtyped, and is therefore appropriate for text of almost any length.

There is also an entirely different approach you may want to try, this time using text boxes. Create a text box and inside of it type as many x characters as desired in the font and size desired. Make sure the text box is formatted so it has no fill (which makes it transparent), has no border, and floats over text with no text wrapping. Drag the text box over the text to be x-ed out and size as necessary.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (2532) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: X-ing Out Text.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 3 + 4?

2018-10-26 10:06:29

Danny Nicholas

On Word 2016 (Maybe most Word versions), this does not actually replace the text. It just inserts x'ed out text at the insertion point, leaving you with the task of removing the unaltered text. Still useful and fun, since xxxxx is not the only option (pretty much anything except ) and you could probably use \) )


2015-02-03 21:20:03

Dragos C. Enea

I have followed the instructions above exactly as listed. It doesn't work. Am I doing something wrong? Please advise.


2015-01-30 14:26:34

Paul Lagasse

Thanks for the macro. An interesting editing option that I had never thought of before, but I can foresee it being useful in certain situations.


2015-01-24 18:00:37

whatabob

In following precisely the instructions for manual execution of this tip, I find that the text to be overprinted is not replaced by its overprinted self. If the text to be affected is first selected, then Cut (ctl-X), it can be pasted (ctl-V) following the "[ctl-F9]eq o("; and finally followed by the comma the appropriate number of overprint characters, and "[shift-F9])". This leaves a clean overprinted rendering.
I believe that the suggested macro could be modified to achieve this complete action by appending the overprint character to the target text, and then selecting it and the text to be overprinted — prior to invoking the macro. I'll try to recoup my macro skills by attempting this modification.


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