Displaying the Navigation Pane when Opening a Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 24, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Ihor creates a lot of structured documents using Word styles and finds the Navigation pane a really great tool. He notes, though, that there doesn't seem to be any way to display this pane automatically when a document is first opened. Ihor wonders how he can make sure it is always displayed.

Before getting into the answer, a snapshot of history is in order. In Word 2007 there is no Navigation pane. It has what was referred to as the Document Map. This feature was expanded in Word 2010 to become what is now known as the Navigation pane. In Word 2007 you can display the Document Map by clicking the View tab of the ribbon and putting a checkmark in the Document Map check box, in the Show group. If you look at the Show group in Word 2010 or a later version, you won't find the Document Map check box there; instead you find the Navigation Pane check box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Navigation Pane

In Word 2010 or a later version, pressing Ctrl+F brings up the Navigation pane and "checks" the Navigation Pane check box. In Word 2007 this shortcut key brings up the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. The reason is because Word folded simple searching tasks into the Navigation pane, so that is what is displayed.

When you turn on the Navigation pane (or, in Word 2007, the Document Map) it is "sticky." This means that when you exit Word and come back into the program, the Navigation pane (or Document Map) are displayed by default. Thus, if you want the pane/map to be visible, simply make sure that it is visible when you exit Word.

You can, if you want, use a macro to enforce the display of the Navigation pane (or Document Map). There are actually two ways you can do this, both methods requiring a single VBA statement. The following statement will work in all versions of Word beginning with Word 2007:

ActiveWindow.DocumentMap = True

The following statement won't work in Word 2007, but it will work in Word 2010 or a later version:

CommandBars("Navigation").Visible = True

Either approach (depending on your version of Word) is fine and results in the Navigation pane (or Document Map) being displayed. You could place the statement within an AutoOpen macro for the Normal template, which would mean that any time you open an existing document, the macro is run and the Navigation pane displayed. For good measure, you could also place your preferred VBA statement inside an AutoNew macro, which would mean it would be executed every time a new document is created.

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 (3579) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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