Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Unwanted Graph Paper Effect.

Unwanted Graph Paper Effect

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 22, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Trevor noted that two of the systems at his office just recently exhibited the same strange behavior. When they start a new session with Word, it opens up with a "graph paper" effect on the screen. He wonders why this would this happen, and how they can turn it off.

There are a couple of possible reasons why this has occurred. The most likely reason is that the drawing grid has been turned on. Follow these steps to turn it off:

  1. Make sure the View tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. Clear the Gridlines check box in the Show or Show/Hide group.

If you find that the drawing grid was not turned on to begin with, then the problem could be related to a background image being set on the system. You can get rid of any background image by following these steps:

  1. Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon if you are using Word 2007 or Word 2010. For Word 2013 and later versions, display the Design tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click Page Color, in the Page Background group. Word displays a drop-down palette of options.
  3. Click No Color.

If the graph paper effect is still visible, get out of Word and use Windows' tools to find the Normal template file. Rename it to something else (such as OldNormal) and then restart Word. If the problem goes away, then you know that it is due to some setting stored in your Normal template. This can help you to track down the culprit, or you could simply let Word rebuild a new Normal template file for you.

Finally, it could be that you have some third-party add-on installed that is causing the effect. Check your add-ons and if you see any there, turn them off and restart Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6068) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Unwanted Graph Paper Effect.

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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