Using Non-Printing Text Boxes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 15, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Didi wonders if there is a way to have a text box with both text and its outline hidden when printing. She wants to be able to keep document formatting info for novice users noticeably available in the document, but not print.

There are a few ways you can approach this issue. The traditional approach is to format the text box so that there is no border and the background (fill) of the text box is transparent. Then you can select the text in the text box and format it has hidden. In that way you can print the document and, as long as you have Word configured to not print hidden text, you'll not have the text boxes show up on the printout, yet still show on the screen.

If you have a lot of text boxes in your document, you can use macros to automate the hiding and unhiding of them:

Sub HideTextBox()
    Dim aShape As Shape
    For Each aShape In ActiveDocument.Shapes
        If aShape.Type = msoTextBox Then
            aShape.Fill.Visible = False
            aShape.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Hidden = True
            aShape.Line.Visible = False
        End If
    Next
End Sub
Sub RestoreTextBox()
    Dim aShape As Shape
    For Each aShape In ActiveDocument.Shapes
        If aShape.Type = msoTextBox Then
            aShape.Fill.Visible = True
            aShape.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Hidden = False
            aShape.Line.Visible = True
        End If
    Next
End Sub

These macros could be added to the Quick Access Toolbar so that you can turn them off before printing and then turn them back on after printing.

Of course, you could utilize hidden text for your document formatting info without the need to utilize text boxes at all. An approach to doing this is detailed in this tip:

https://wordribbon.tips.net/T008056_Using_Non-Printing_Notes

Another approach is to configure Word so that drawing objects (such as text boxes) don't print. 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 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Display. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Display options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Print Drawings Created in Word check box.
  5. Click on OK to save your changes.

Now text boxes are displayed on the screen, but they won't be printed. You need to be aware, though, that no other drawings will be printed either. So, it is best to check out this option with your document to make sure it will do what you want.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8905) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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