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: Using Text Boundaries.

Using Text Boundaries

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 4, 2018)


If you work often in Print Layout view, you may find text boundaries helpful. These are dotted lines that appear in your document to mark the limits of text elements. For instance, when you use text boundaries, dotted lines appear around the margins of your text, as well as around headers, footers, footnotes, etc.

To control the display of text boundaries, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the options until you see the Show Document Content section. (You'll need to scroll down a ways.) (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Use the Show Text Boundaries check box to control whether Word uses text boundaries or not. Click on the check box to turn the feature on and off; a check in the box means it is enabled.
  6. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8840) 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: Using Text Boundaries.

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 one more than 6?

2019-04-17 17:18:12

Bobbie Hayes

As time passes, on screen text is using a grey tone instead of black on white. When using Word, the text color is fine but the edges of the page has become so light that I can barely see the edges of the page. Any suggestions for making the page edges show up more on the word desktop. While this suggestion is helpful, I still can't see how the text looks on the page. I know that there is a high contrast setting but that takes you even farther away from seeing how the text looks on the overall page.

2018-10-04 08:50:43



This tip has nothing to do with Master documents.


2018-10-03 20:17:51

Arnold Chamove

Your MasterDocument information is not up to date for recent versions of Word (e.g., Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016).

2018-09-11 06:47:38


Hi! Thanks for sharing this, it helps me a lot! :-)

2018-03-18 14:14:05


Thank you! Those dotted lines were driving me crazy!!!

2017-12-04 10:02:52


For the macro suggestions, here are more concise versions to do the same thing:

Sub ToggleShowCropMarks()
ActiveWindow.View.ShowCropMarks = Not (ActiveWindow.View.ShowCropMarks)
End Sub


Sub ToggleShowTextBoundaries()
ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries = Not (ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries)
End Sub

2017-08-11 11:32:28

David Gardner

For Word 2013 and 2016 users, the crop marks on the corners of each page might be more useful. Here's the macro to toggle them on/off from your Quick Access Toolbar:
Sub ToggleShowCropMarks()
Dim b As Boolean
b = ActiveWindow.View.ShowCropMarks
b = Not (b)
ActiveWindow.View.ShowCropMarks = b
End Sub

2017-08-11 10:38:18

David Gardner

The following macro can be added to your Quick Access Toolbar to toggle the text boundary off/on:

Sub ToggleShowTextBoundaries()
Dim b As Boolean
b = ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries
b = Not (b)
ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries = b
End Sub

2017-08-11 09:50:57

Marc Hichens

This feature used to be invaluable, as it enabled the user to know whether their tables, images, or text were within the margins. However, in Word 2013, Microsoft claims to have "fixed" the text boundaries feature to work as it should have when the feature was introduced. In Word 2013, text boundaries appear around each paragraph, which is annoying. The feature was more useful when it just indicated margins. The compromise to seeing the margins is to show the crop marks, which show the corners of the margins.

The ability to easily toggle the text boundaries feature would allowsyou to temporarily see the margins, if you don't want to enable the text boundaries feature as a permanent setting in Advanced Options.

The text boundaries feature can be toggled by adding a toggle button to a custom ribbon (complex solution; requires multiple subs, ribbon call backs, and invalidate ribbon statements).

I can't find a text boundaries feature in All Commands for the Quick Access Toolbar, but there is a simple solution. Write 2 short custom macros and add them to the Quick Access Toolbar
* ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries = True
* ActiveWindow.View.ShowTextBoundaries = False


2016-12-12 12:40:35


is there a possibility to hide the boundaries in some cases (like when i open a mail merge) and on-hide when i open other documents (like Merged Labels)
thanks for your help

2016-11-28 15:06:15


i would like to move my words and numbers have have gone over the left and right boundaries. how can i get them within the boundaries without doing it all over again please

2016-11-06 13:40:24


Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Word.


Sally Templin

2016-08-28 01:32:37


thank you

2016-01-10 14:39:53


It's ridiculous that they have not fixed this issue yet! I can't imagine anyone liking text boundaries around every single line. It plays havoc with your eyes and clutters up every document unnecessarily!

2016-01-08 12:14:20

Alison Loram

Completely agree with this. I've just had Windows 13 put onto my computer as I was told it was "better" than W 10. NO IT'S NOT! I've spent most of the week trying to work out how to do all the things I used to able to do in the OFfice VS before 10 and still have to look up in W10......Everything looks different and is in a different place,
including these blessed text boundaries which as you say, mean you can't tell whether you're working in a table or not, or see your cursor, and generally drives you beserk. I can't function without the text boundary ruond the page but can't function with text boundaries round every line. AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Please can someone let me know when MS fixes it...... Thanksx

2015-11-05 17:33:15


The increase in the number of text boundaries is to do with the new file formats more than with the new version of word. It seems every paragraph sits within its own boundary, as opposed to the page within a boundary.

For me, at least, this only occurs when the file format is .docx

If you save the same file as .doc then the result is the same as you are familiar with from previous versions of Word (presumably where the .docx file format was not available).

2015-10-30 18:09:25

Frustrated no more

Perfect!!! The text box boundaries were driving me crazy when I updated from Word 2007 to 2015 (for Mac).
Your explanation helped me find it by going to Word, Preferences, View, and from there could uncheck that sneaky little Text Boundaries box.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

2015-10-03 14:28:29


Ethan Hack,
How do you save in Compatiblility Mode? I'm not seeing that option.

2015-10-02 09:39:41

Ethan Hack

Solution to the cursor problem: change the cursor thickness from 1 to 2. Control Panel - Ease of Access Center - Make the computer easier to see - Set the thickness of the blinking cursor. Should work for Windows 7, 8 and 10 (can also be done through Settings in Windows 10).

2015-10-02 09:24:03

Ethan Hack

The text boundaries are displayed as in Word 2010 if you save a document in Compatibility Mode. However, the cursor is still invisible at the beginning of a line when text boundaries are shown, which I find particularly unhelpful when I want to put text onto a blank line. Thank you to Jenny O: I was relieved (in a way) to learn that the problem isn't just mine.

2015-09-28 13:34:00

Jenny O

Like the others I'm having a problem dealing with the 'new' text boundaries. Also, I can't see the cursor when text boundaries are enabled, which is very annoying.
Please fix soon! Thank you

2015-09-04 13:56:34

Janice Harris

I agree with everyone above. It is very hard on the eyes when working, yet I need to see the basic text boundary when doing layout. The continual lines for every paragraph return is very annoying. Microsoft, please fix this problem.

2015-06-25 09:20:13

Paul Stregevsky (formerly Maryland, USA)

I'd also like to be able to add
Show Text Boundaries" to my Quick Access Toolbar, as I can do with Show Table Gridlines.

2015-06-24 07:57:47


I'm so glad to read everyone's comments. I thought I was the only one with this problem. I hope they sort it out soon. I've never worked without a text boundary and I find it so frustrating!

2015-01-18 14:48:09


Come on, Microsoft, surely you have the capability and resources to correct this text boundary flub up!

2015-01-18 02:48:20


hello dailyangel50
have never been able to live without text boundaries = ON until Office 2013
WHY won't they fix this issue????

2014-12-14 12:32:18


Multiple text boundaries in word 2013 is really disgusting. Whether MS did this intentionally or unintentionally it is not in good taste to remove the single text boundary for each page. Fixing the text boundary as was available in earlier versions is highly solicited

2014-11-08 20:10:17


The quicker they fix the text boundary line in Word 2013 the better! It is extremely annoying and pointless the way it appears now.

2014-11-07 12:47:45


I too have the same problem in 2013. I loved the "around the outside" text boundaries, but can't work with the line-by-line boundaries in 2013. If there's a way to get just the outside line back, please let me know!!

2014-07-31 04:41:03

Mary Ann Sandoval

I do agree with dailyangel50. I am annoyed with how text boundary line works with 2013. The option was very useful to me then in 2010 version, but now I have a hard time working with text boundary because I see so many lines :(

I hope this will be fix.

2014-02-28 00:12:00


I was just given Word 2013 at work and the text boundaries are not the same as they were in earlier versions of Word (2007 & 2010).

It has become a nightmare! Now EVERY LINE of text is underlined, instead of just the page border (unless you are in compatibility mode). You can't tell if you are looking at a table or standard text anymore, and you can no longer see your cursor along the margins edge, due to it being the same shade as the text boundary line.

These issues make it impossible to work with the text boundaries being left turned on. Since I do rely heavily on them, I have been using a macro (applied to my quick access toolbar)to toggle the text boundaries on and off, since it would have been too time consuming going in and out of the options to turn it on and off, again and again.

I wish Microsoft would fix this issue because the option is very useful when designing templates and I prefer to leave it on, but it just doesn't work well at all in 2013.

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