Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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.

Understanding Views

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 20, 2020)


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 right side of the horizontal scroll bar or by selecting a view from 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.)

If you open multiple documents, or you are use multiple panes to view the same document, switching views in one of the windows or panes will not affect the others. Word controls this 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 Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Views.

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 eight more than 6?

2020-08-31 10:44:17


With the new version of Word it always want to to jump to reading view on new docs and doc attachments. But I hate reading view!!! How do I tell Word I want the ribbon every time and make it so reading view isn't the default?

2020-04-02 20:36:01

A Different Rob

Well until today, I loved Web Layout but wondered why is was called that merely b/c it had an infinitely long page. I'm usually reading/edited some technical docs that have tables and diagrams, and the natural scrolling WITHOUT the table rows splitting across "pages" and thus interrupted by headers and footers is just soooo much easier. The extra ease of perusing is just bliss (in a relative sort of way). Of course, one goes to print-layout and turns on gridlines as needed, to make sure that all is well before declaring completion.
But then today, I find that I can't click into a right side column and there's some mystery margin-like vertical line TO-THE-LEFT of my unreachable column. What the ???? Well after systematically deleting stuff, I discover that the mystery line is sort of a pseudo margin which gets adjusted by screen width (as one would expect), but ALSO by any 'comments' (the right-click "add comment" kind).
Add some of those and they push the mystery-margin to the left and BANG! Your right column(s) are inaccessible(ish) and as bad or even worse., the comments are fighting with said column(s). !@#$#% It's fugly!! And this was compounded by not knowing what I (and you) now know. Ohhh the frustration of wonder what that line was. Oh Oh Oh, even with Review -> Show Markup -> Comments unchecked... the comments are gone but the line remains!!!
The dream solution/feature would be Pageless Mode (with a horizontal scroll-bar as needed). I'm mean "Web Layout"??? Who (WHO!!??) is actually going from Word's Web Layout to an actual web page? But hey, let me edit my content without seeing headers and footers breaking up my tables.... THAT'D BE SWEET! And that's what I thought I had.

2019-04-05 00:48:12


This image better shows my point re the grey areas on the ruler showing margins in 'Web Layout' where they shouldn't be.

Once again - how can I make web Layout marginless to show text without margins, as Web Layout' is supposed to - there must be a control / option for this

(see Figure 1 below)

Question to moderators - why cant comments on this site be edited?

Figure 1. 

2019-04-05 00:35:51


"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."

I use Web Layout as part of my framespage system because it usually is nice and smooth and shows text filling all available space without margins, which is a VERY important feature.

I upgraded from word 2010 to word 2019 and suddenly "web layout" view has 8 mm seemingly unalterable margins to the left and right of my 8 column system.

as you can imagine losing 16 mm of each of the 8 columns means a LOT of space in my layout

If I show the ruler there is a grey area at the sides of each column that contrains the text to the outside of these areas.

This, as seen on the image, highlights the issue - where is the control to make these 'grey areas' on the ruler 'go away' so Web View can use all the space as its meant to.

There must be a hidden control for this - how do i get back the marginless state of Web View?

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. 

2018-11-13 13:37:26


One of the most important views, at least to me, is the Print Preview. I do many large documents and I never find the regular view to be what is printed.
Print Preview saves me many, many redoes. And you can edit in Print Preview by unchecking the magnifier--strange.

2017-05-17 17:21:27

Connie Goss

In our organization, product manuals are always laid out with the odd numbers on the right page and the even on the left. However, reading view, when set for two-page view, always starts with page 1 on the left, so it doesn't really simulate the actual reading experience with the printed product. Is there a way to force it to start with page 1 on the right? I considered adding a temporary blank page at the beginning of the document, but I have learned that often causes problems with sections, page numbers, TOC's, and so on. Any ideas?

2017-03-06 09:28:30


I use draft view because it gives me the style pane, which is very helpful for some of the complex formatting I do. However, recently, draft view shows in web mode rather than print mode. I find this very frustrating and have to switch view frequently, whereas I used to work through the hole thing in draft view. My documents tend to be in the 30+ page range, with multiple footnotes and a hierarchy of headings. I owuld love to have draft view back in page mode. Is there any way I can do this?

2016-11-04 15:04:31


My copy of word started opening by default web layout automatically. Scared me to death as I had to print what I was typing up.

2016-10-21 11:02:59


Never touch a table, never use draft view, unless you want to spend hours and days on formatting.
I just switched to draft view and back to print layout and as a result all columns in the tables moved sideways, in some rows to the left, in other rows to the right. Nothing looked as before.

2016-07-26 09:34:03


The fact remains, printing is so last century. 99% of the time its just never going to happen. You move data from one terminal to another and read it with a screen, not paper. So the default should be a view that shows the data with no space wasting margins. Pure and simple. Actually the default view should be Full Screen. You have to have pretty severe mental degradation to not be able to remember keyboard shortcuts that are used multiple times a day. Unfortunately, even in technology, many of us have both feet in the past.

2016-07-25 09:27:13

Paul Franklin Stregevsky

Even when we don't plan to print anytime soon, most of us prefer to edit in WYSIWYG: what you see is what you [will] get [when you DO decide to print or PDF]. That's why Word opens to Print Layout view by default. That's why the 1984 Macintosh was revolutionary, That's why people preferred to use Word on that Mac even though its display had 91 percent fewer pixels than the full HD displays that most of us enjoy today.

2016-07-24 15:20:23


How about mentioning how to control what the default layout will be? Mine opens in Print view. That is really stupid. What percentage of the population prints most things that are opened? Almost none. It should open in Web View allowing the full screen to be utilized. Of course that would take common sense.

2016-03-22 13:06:26

Tim Swart

I downloaded a pre-printed word document USG SF330. Word 2013, Print View. As I type in new words, the document expands toward bottom of page but the words disappear rather than transfer to the next page. Entire document appears in Web View. Tried going to Table options and unwrapping text but then formatting destroyed. Any Suggestions/

2015-12-02 10:10:23

Paul Franklin Stregevsky

Though I never use Draft view, I am grateful to Dr. Bartolo for his lucid posts reminding us that the Draft view is not merely "Layout View Lite" but an alternative view in its own right.

Allow me me add one more advantage to Draft view: In its footnotes pane, there's a dropdown list. Under that list, you'll find options to see, and modify, the Footnote Separator, the Footnote Continuation Separator, and the Footnote Continuation Notice.

Are those options available at all in Print Layout view?

2015-11-28 16:25:07

Joe Fisher

I was sent here as a result of asking a question about "Views" in Microsoft WORD.But that is just the tip of the iceburg. My real problen is bigger, but harder to describe:I am writing a document in which I have numerous footnotes.Word seems to be smart enough to know that if a footnote won't fit on the page where it belongs, it s ok to continue it at the top of the footnote area on the next page. but again that'sjust the beginning of my problem. often when I want to insert a footnote, I find( after clicking "insert" that "footnote" and" endnote" are grayed-out andeven when not grayed-out that they don't work right I know ( from the times when I've actually work that the sequence: Insert> footnote> {select reference mark format} does(on a good day) the following: (1) enters the reference mark where the cursor is(2) jumps to the footnote area;(3) puts the selected mark at the start of the typing place;(4) moves the entry point to just behind that mark, but often, I can't find the entry mark(3)not even on the next page9in fact often I can't find the next page.Getting me back to the "views" problem.

2015-10-29 15:45:23

Joe Fisher

It(your tip) is exactly the KIND of information that I need, but I need lLOTS MORE TIPS. I've been having all kind of problems with footnotes that I type, but seem to disappear. Maybe I could see them in some other "view"??A related problem: I start the process of entering a footnote, i.e., Click <insert> footnote(if it is not grayed out) then click my selection of reference symbol{ which then often{but not slways} jumps me to the entry point for my footnote text( immediately behind the selected reference mark( (often no jump and no mark)

2015-07-22 10:16:41


Chinda: You can find them on the View tab of the ribbon.


2015-07-21 23:42:25

Chinda Thoeun

I find only 3 views in word 2013
- Read Mode (Full screen view)
- Web layout
- Print layout

So, how about draft and outline views?
Where I can find them?

Thanks for your sharing.


2014-09-11 17:04:44


You are right, Rick, that personal preference is the real decider.

Print view does however show the breaks if you turn on the show/hide button.

2014-09-10 10:41:01


Mabel, thanks for the tip about seeing styles in Draft view.

Mark, I would not say
"Using show/hide button reveals all you need to know in print view (and makes any advantage of draft view superfluous)".
It all depends on the kind of tasks you have to do with your document, personal preference, and how much you know about how to use Word. Print View is great for many things and I use it most of the time. However, Print View doesn't show some of the things that Draft View shows (such as breaks).

2014-09-08 09:25:36


In Full Screen view, you can edit if you go to View Options and select "Allow Typing".

In Print Layout, your document appears differently depending on which printer the computer is hooked to. If you all need to see the document exactly the same way, select Adobe Acrobat as the default printer.

In Draft View, another advantage is that you can more easily apply paragraph Styles (Heading 1, Heading 2...etc. But first you need to change your Word's advanced options, Display, Style area pane width in Draft and Outline Views... and make it larger than 0".

2014-09-08 07:19:06

Dr. Bartolo


You said that "Using show/hide button reveals all you need to know in print view (and makes any advantage of draft view superfluous)." As I said before, I am afraid you are wrong on both counts.

The rest is personal preference. For myself I do not want large expanses of unfilled, unused white space on my screen when I type, and I do want to have seamless text (large blank areas between the bottom of one page and the and the top of the next get in my way when I am composing text. Obviously for you that is not the case.).

I repeat: I am not saying there is no benefit to print layout view, just that the advantages of draft layout are being overlooked (your comment proves it).

2014-09-07 17:33:20

Mark Vitlin

Disagree that only advantage of print view is that 'it looks pretty'. Word documents are meant to be read, and there is great advantage in seeing your words as the reader will see them.

Using show/hide button reveals all you need to know in print view (and makes any advantage of draft view superfluous).

Also in draft view I find working on the left hand side of the screen uncomfortable.

2014-09-07 05:31:20

Dr. Bartolo

No Angus I am not. I refer to all versions of Word which I have used - 2.0, 6.0, Word 95, Word 97, Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013. There are many advantages to draft view, one of which I set out in my earlier comment.

To answer Phillip, regrettably, yes, from Word 2007 on one cannot directly see and work on footnotes and end notes any longer in draft view.

But why do you need to do so? By hovering over the footnote mark in draft view you can see the footnote text, and if you need to edit it double click on the footnote number and the footnote pane opens ready for you to work in.

Using what you call the "show invisibles" button does not turn on everything that you can see in draft view (page and section breaks, for example).

Bear in mind that I did not say one must never use print view to work in, just that the advantages of using draft (normal) view are being overlooked.

2014-09-06 13:07:10

Phillip Jones

t is a shame that almost everyone, including in this tip, overlooks the huge editing advantages of working in draft view (originally, and revealingly, called normal view by Microsoft). For example, it is only in this view that you can actually see where a page break is ...

The dis advantage is if you have any footnotes or end notes they are not shown in Draft (at least in Mac version).

To do about the same thing yo mention for advantage of Draft View , in Print view is:
In Standard menu Bar (if the PC version also uses) it to tun on the show invisibles which the button is shown as a ¶ (paragraph mark)

2014-09-06 10:25:08

Angus McLean

I have Word 2007 and I agree with Alan's comment on Print Layout. I do not see any advanatge in "draft view". Perhaps you are referring to later versions of Word?


2014-09-06 04:32:01

Dr. Bartolo

It is a shame that almost everyone, including in this tip, overlooks the huge editing advantages of working in draft view (originally, and revealingly, called normal view by Microsoft). For example, it is only in this view that you can actually see where a page break is (if you use a newer version of Word you have to turn that back on since in their "wisdom" Microsoft have turned it off by default). If you have ever wondered why there is suddenly a new page break where there is not meant to be and it turns out that you hit the wrong keys by mistake, the only place you will see why is in draft view, and so on.

Just because it looks pretty (that really is all there is to it) does not make print layout a better working environment. Alas the way Microsoft have set things up the reverse is true.

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