Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Seeing Where Bookmarks Are.

Seeing Where Bookmarks Are

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 1, 2014)


The bookmarking feature in Word has many uses. As you start to learn those uses and create more and more bookmarks, it can be difficult to remember where bookmarks are in your documents. While you can easily jump from one bookmark to another, sometimes it is easier to just see where your bookmarks are at a glance. Word makes this easy by following 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 Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Show Document Content section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Show Bookmarks check box is selected.
  6. Click on OK.

Now you will see small, gray brackets around words or phrases that are bookmarked. If you see a small gray I-beam in your text, it means there is a bookmark set at that single location, rather than a word or phrase specified. These marks appear only on the screen; they do not print out with the document. If you reverse the above steps, the bookmark indicators are removed from the screen.

Note that this technique allows you to see the bookmarks you explicitly add to a document. Word uses bookmarks internally for some purposes; those types of bookmarks are not displayed by turning on the Show Bookmarks setting.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9190) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Seeing Where Bookmarks Are.

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 three more than 5?

2017-06-28 12:28:10

Rocklyn Faher

Okay, I figured out the 'SW0' Bookmarks the instant I read your feedback about the secondary application. I have Style Writer installed, which i have used intermittently to parse some extended or dense sections of narrative for problems. The _TOC info is very helpful also. I am currently engaged in an extensive 'edit' and rewrite of my novel, splitting up chapters that are too long, etc, etc. I really appreciate your quick reply.

2017-06-28 03:30:37

Ken Endacott

A hidden “_Toc” bookmarks is created for each heading paragraph when a TOC is generated. If you delete and re-create the TOC a new set of bookmarks is created but the old set is not deleted. Thus you can have multiple bookmarks at the one heading, only one of which is used by the current TOC. It is difficult to identify which are dormant and delete them and it is usually better to leave them. A heavily edited document can have hundreds or even thousands of hidden bookmarks. If you really want to delete them, delete the current TOC, delete all bookmarks having names starting with “_Toc” then recreate the TOC. Hidden bookmarks have a name starting with underscore.

I am wondering if something similar is happening with the SW bookmarks which would seem to have been generated by a third party application. The position of these bookmarks might give a clue as to what generated them. I would be loathe to delete them unless you know what they are used for.

2017-06-27 19:41:00

Rocklyn Faher

Okay: I asked earlier about deleting certain kinds of Bookmarks rather than all bookmarks. Now, the reason for this is that i am writing a novel, (admittedly an amateur). One day I open the Bookmark viewpane with the intent to Bookmark a future edit position and I find 678 bookmarks in my document as follows "SW00001" through SW0678". No idea how or where they came from. Then I notice the 'Hidden Bookmark' checkbox. Clicking on it reveals more bookmarks in the following format 'Toc412579202' through 'Toc482309915'. Naturally i am worried that these might be linking my Chapter headings to the Table Of Contents list connected to the 'Navigation Pane' . I don't want to erase those links, not knowing how this might affect the underlying document. So I re-wrote your code as follows:

Sub RemoveAllBookmarks()
Dim objBookmark As Bookmark

For Each objBookmark In ActiveDocument.Bookmarks
If Left(objBookmark.Name, 3) = "SW0" Then objBookmark.Delete

End Sub

Do you happen to know if the TOC is linked to 'Hidden' bookmarks in this manner?

2015-10-16 12:27:32

Stephen Gray

I am having chronic trouble with bookmarks moving. (No one else has ever reported this problem,, but it might be due to the size of my document (1000 pages, dozens of styles, 6 indexes, thousands of endnotes, etc.) I wonder how BM's are stored, given that text can be added or subtracted within a BM or near one. I think they must be stored in terms of character counts, which are kept track of when text is changed. I wonder if there might be a bug in this code.

2015-06-04 05:59:03

Ken Endacott

The following macro will toggle ShowBookmarks on and off. The macro can be added to your Quick Access Toolbar.

Sub ToggleShowBookmarks()
ActiveWindow.View.ShowBookmarks = Not ActiveWindow.View.ShowBookmarks
End Sub

2015-06-03 09:15:01


Is there a way to quickly toggle the visibility of bookmarks on and off? Or is going through the process of Show Bookmarks and checking and unchecking that box the only way to make them visible and then return them to invisibility?

It'd be great if there was a command that could be added to the Quick Access Toolbar to be able to toggle these on and off.

2015-03-03 19:49:33


You can look at the Bookmark dialog box, Insert ribbon | Links section | Bookmark. I put it on my quick launch bar It shows the listing and then you can click on one and then click the Go To button.

2015-01-09 00:28:59


Is it possible to show what and where all the bookmarks are instead of just where they are situated?

I'm looking for something like field codes that you can just switch on and off with Alt-F9. Is there a (possibly undocumented) equivalent for bookmarks.

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