Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: The Line that Won't Go Away.

The Line that Won't Go Away

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 20, 2017)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Word, by default, takes some liberties with what you type. One such liberty is the adding of borders to paragraphs based on what you type. For instance, if you type three underlines on a new line, and then press Enter, you get a solid line that extends the width of your document. This is not the only three characters that result in this type of replacement—characters for lines—but if you don't know the source of the line, it can be frustrating.

This feature of Word is controlled by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click on AutoCorrect Options. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  4. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. Note the Border Lines checkbox. If cleared, Word does not automatically create lines; if it is selected, Word will behave as described earlier in this tip. Set the checkbox as desired.
  7. Close the various dialog boxes that are open.

Now that you know what causes the lines, you may be wondering how to get rid of them once they are in your document.

As with any AutoFormat that is applied by Word, you can undo the change by pressing Ctrl+Z right after the change is made. For instance, if you press three underlines and then Enter, Word changes the underlines to a line. You can undo this by immediately pressing Ctrl+Z.

If you later want to delete the line, there are two things you can do that will help you. First, remember that the "line" added by Word is really a paragraph border; it is not a real line. Second, you need to display Word's non-printing characters. (How you do this is covered in other WordTips.)

Now you are ready to get rid of the lines. Start by positioning the insertion point at the beginning of the paragraph that has the border and pressing Ctrl+Q. This resets the paragraph's formatting back to its default, which usually does not include the border. If this does not do what you want, you can always select the entire paragraph that contains the border and simply delete it.

There is something else to remember when getting rid of borders created by AutoFormat: They can affect multiple paragraphs. For instance, consider the following scenario, which you can try in a document:

  1. On a blank line, enter three underlines and press Enter. Word converts them to a border underneath the paragraph.
  2. Press the Up Arrow once. This should place the insertion point at the beginning of the paragraph that now has the underline.
  3. Press Enter two times. It appears as if you have moved the underline down two lines, since the insertion point is still at the beginning of the paragraph that has the underline.
  4. Press Ctrl+Q. The underline appears to not go away, but jumps up a line.

Why did this happen? The reason is quite simple. Since the "line" is really a paragraph border, it appears at the bottom of the last paragraph that has that format. When you pressed Enter twice, in step 3, you ended up with three paragraphs, each formatted with a border underneath. However, Word only displays the border of the last paragraph formatted with that border, even though all three have it. (Word translates the border as one that appears under the group of like-formatted paragraphs, not one that appears under each individual paragraph.) When you performed step 4, the border was removed from the last of the three paragraphs, but it still remained on the other two. Thus, the border appeared to "jump up" a line. All that really happened was that Word dutifully displayed the bottom border on the last paragraph with that format, which now happens to be the second of the original three paragraphs.

To get rid of the border on all the paragraphs, you need to select all the paragraphs and press Ctrl+Q. If you don't want to do this (perhaps you don't want to remove some other explicit paragraph formatting you have), you can follow these steps:

  1. Select all the paragraphs in your document by pressing Ctrl+A.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the down-arrow next to the Borders tool in the Paragraph group and then click Borders and Shading. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Borders tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Borders tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.

  6. Click on the None setting.
  7. Click on OK.

These steps remove all borders from all paragraphs and tables within the document. If there are some borders you really want to keep, then you should simply modify step 1 so that you select only those paragraphs that have borders you want to get rid of.

For more information on getting rid of stubborn lines that Word automatically adds to your document, see the following page at Suzanne Barnhill's site:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6067) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: The Line that Won't Go Away.

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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If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 - 6?

2022-03-12 15:52:58

B Mark Hess

Why have these dotted lines started appearing?
(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Dotted underlines appearing on screen

2022-03-03 15:13:48


Thank you so much! I sat down to write and did not plan that I would be trying to get rid of a stubborn line for 20 minutes. But this helped me and now i can get back to writing. Thanks!

2021-06-22 18:21:22


This removed an incredibly irritating issue - thank you so much!

Mr. Wyatt, you are a Word Wizard :D

2020-08-29 05:43:04


Thank you so much! This was fantastic. I appreciate you providing two ways to do it - one which doesn't change other formatting in the document. These lines began appearing randomly and I had no idea why.

2020-05-08 22:00:58


Thank you for helping me. I have subscribed!! Nicole

2019-12-07 16:40:58


Thank you, I googled for this question for at least twenty times, You telling me to do CTRL-A and then clicking No borders finally got rid of this stupid line. Thank you so much

2019-07-29 14:08:39

Michelle Edmundson

THANK YOU you are a genius and I am most appreciative. That dang line!

2019-05-02 00:02:45


This was -actually- helpful! I really appreciated the part where you explained that it was creating a border to a paragraph, and that by clicking enter, it had created a border for only the 3rd line, but once you remove the 3rd line's paragraph border, it would rise to the 2nd paragraph. I had to modify your instructions for Word version 16.24 on the Mac, but basically, your assistance was extremely helpful! Thank you!!!

2019-03-06 05:42:05

Dev Agarwal

Thank you very much. Auto format was driving me nuts. Very clear advice.

2019-01-21 18:13:57

Cody Dillon

Wow, this was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was so frustrated trying to get rid of these lines. THANK YOU

2019-01-09 12:53:38

Rombout Versluijs

Hi thanks for this. I noticed one issue with autocorrect and i cant find the solution. Say you have a list, and the autocorrect word is at the end of the line. It will not get correct because its not followed by a space.

I made an autocorrect for gr/m2 to g/m2 and it will not work unless add a space after it and than do a return.

Is there a solution?

2018-11-25 23:46:56


This was completely unhelpful. I still have lines underneath pictures when I insert them.

2018-10-15 11:48:23


Thank you!! This was an infuriating feature and I'm happy to finally be able to control it.

For those on a Mac, CTRL+Q is the equivalent of going to the Format menu and selecting Borders and Shading.

2018-05-23 17:45:51


thank you!

2018-03-16 00:25:06

Matthew Schwartz

To get rid of the border on all the paragraphs, you need to select all the paragraphs and press Ctrl+Q. YES this cleared all these insane irritating lines that could NOT be removed any other way. Tearing my hair out. Thanks.

2017-10-12 01:09:47


Hi Allen,

I am facing a problem in Excel VBA. I have added signature line and then signature picture using

Dim sig As Signature
Set sig = ActiveWorkbook.Signatures.AddSignatureLine

Now when user click "Edit Anyway" button, only picture of signature gets removed not the vertical line and details of signer below that. Is it possible to clear this shape as well. Or at least when we add signature next time, previous details should go programmatically. Thanks in advance.

2017-06-14 20:49:30


Thank you so much. Your advice allowed me to finally delete unwanted lines.

2017-05-25 00:11:05

Phil Reinemann

Allan, you might as well delete all my posts for this article as it's kind of covered by item 4 in your article except I just use it for the individual paragraphs. It would be nice to figure out how to submit the image... but maybe it's my Firefox NoScript which for your site is almost turned off.

The image I was trying to submit is the 4th one from the left in the Preview image of the article, right above the "Apply to:" text, except mine has the black down-pointing triangle next to it.

It's interesting that the last post before this one included "fig" (no quotes) between the curly brackets but once posted fig is not there. I was just never asked for the location of the image.

2017-05-24 23:59:35

Phil Reinemann

And again [{}]

2017-05-24 23:56:52

Phil Reinemann

That didn't ask for the figure either. If at first you don't succeed: the dotted 4-square with flippy-triangle - you might have to make the window wider to show that button - let's see if I can insert it here: [{}]

2017-05-24 23:52:41

Phil Reinemann

I thought you had published a tip to get rid of that border elsewhere and it might be this:

Select or click in the paragraph with the bottom border/line then select the flippy-triangle (down pointing triangle) in the borders option button (the dotted 4-square with flippy-triangle - you might have to make the window wider to show that button - let's see if I can insert it here: [{/Users/Phil/Desktop/Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 22.49.19.png}] ) in the paragraph area of the Home tab/ribbon, which should show a solid line as the bottom-most border and pick the option (icon) with no borders (the one that shows all dots for the borders and interior). (It looks just like the border option for cells in Excel with no interior and exterior borders.)

I'm currently using Word 2011 on my Mac, but I think my Win 7 Office 2007 has a QAT to turn that off or a macro.

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