Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Understanding Views.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 18, 2021)
Word provides different ways you can view your documents, depending on your particular needs. The major views available in Word are Print Layout, Full Screen Reading, Web Layout, Outline, and Draft. (In Word 2013 the Full Screen Reading view was renamed the Read Mode view.) You can choose which view you are using by clicking on the view controls at the bottom-right corner of the program window or by selecting a view from the View tab of the ribbon. (Using the view controls at the bottom-right corner of the program window allows you to access only a limited number of views. To get to all of the available views, use the View tab of the ribbon.)
Print Layout view is the one most closely related to what your document will look like when you actually print it. This viewing mode, which is the one you will probably use most of the time, allows you to see your headers and footers in place, what your margins look like, how your text boxes appear in relation to text, and what your graphics look like in your document. This is the viewing mode you should use if you want to always see what your document will look like.
Read Mode view (Full Screen Reading view in earlier versions of Word) allows you to do exactly what its name suggests—read your document using the full screen of your system. The view gets rid of the ribbons and uses the maximum screen space available to display your document. Typically, the document will be displayed in two facing pages, but the number of pages displayed can be affected by the size of the monitor you are using. There is no editing allowed in this view; it is for reading only. You can exit this view by simply pressing the Esc key. (In many ways, Read Mode is very similar to Print Preview in older versions of Word.)
Web Layout view is designed to allow you to easily see how your documents will look if used in an online environment. There is not much more to say about this viewing mode; it is provided for those who intend on publishing their Word documents online.
Outline view is used when you want to work with large portions of your document at the same time. It allows you to collapse your document and view only the major headings. The text under each heading can be hidden so it does not obscure your view of document organization. When you select Outline view, an additional Outlining tab appears on the ribbon. This tab allows you to control what is displayed in this view.
Draft view can be considered a "pared down" version of the Print Layout view. It allows you to generally see how your text will appear on paper. This means you can see what each line will look like, how the text appears, and where the lines will break. You can also see where each page will break. An advantage of this view is that the styles used in the document are displayed in the style pane to the left of the screen. Draft view is helpful if you are using an older, slower computer that can't display the Print Layout view particularly quickly. (Print Layout view requires more computing overhead to display information.)
There is one additional "view" (more correctly called a "mode") that should be addressed—Focus. This view or mode is available on the View tab of the ribbon, in the Immersive group. It was added in Microsoft 365, and it removes all extraneous distractions so that you can focus specifically on the words. It is similar to Read Mode, except it allows you to edit your document. Like Read Mode, you can exit Focus mode by pressing the Esc key.
If you open multiple documents, or you are use multiple panes or windows to view the same document, switching views in one of the windows or panes will generally not affect the others. Read Mode and Focus mode can affect the others, as these modes rely upon the full screen, not on individual panes or windows. The other views, however, work within panes or windows and Word allows you to control the views in the panes and windows independently. Thus, you can use one document pane to see what your document looks like in one view, and another to work with the document in an entirely different way.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8142) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Views.
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