Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Finding an Invisible Text Box.

Finding an Invisible Text Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 10, 2020)


When Vanessa prints her document, the printout includes a text box with text in it. When she looks at the document on-screen, she can't see the text box or the text it contains. Vanessa wants to delete the text box and wonders, since she can't see the text box, how she can find it to get rid of it.

There are a few things you should try. First, make sure you know the page on which the text box is located. This is a simple determination—just look at the printout to see on which page it occurs. You should make note of any surrounding text or elements that can help you to narrow down where to look in the document itself.

Now, make sure you are viewing your document in Print Layout view. If you are viewing your document in some other view, then you won't be able to see some of your graphics, including text boxes.

If the text box is still not visible, then you should check to make sure that the display of drawings hasn't been turned off. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and choose Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions, click the File tab of the ribbon and click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the options until you can see the Show Document Content section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Show Picture Placeholders check box is cleared.
  6. Make sure the Show Drawings and Text Boxes on Screen check box is selected.
  7. Click on OK.

Provided you are still viewing the document in Print Layout view, you should be able to see any text boxes. If you still can't see it, it could be possible that the text box is formatted for no line and no fill and that the text it contains is formatted as hidden (and you have the display of hidden text turned off). If you suspect this is the case, try these general steps:

  1. Zoom out on your page so that you can see it all on the screen.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon and, in the Editing group, click Select | Select Objects.
  3. Click and drag to create a selection box around the entire page.

When you release the mouse button, any objects on the page should be selected. You can then delete them by simply pressing the Delete key.

Word also includes a great way to see the objects in your document. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. In the Editing group click Select | Selection Pane. Word displays the Selection and Visibility task pane at the right side of your document.
  3. Navigate to the page that—based on the printout—contains the errant text box.
  4. Use the controls in the Selection and Visibility task pane to select and control visibility of the object. (In the task pane, the small control at the right side of the object controls visibility.)

If you are still having problems locating and getting rid of the text box, you can try a macro approach. The following macro will step through all the shapes defined in the document and delete them. This is a great approach if the offending text box is the only shape in your entire document.

Sub Remove_Boxes()
    Dim aShape As Shape
    For Each aShape In ActiveDocument.Shapes
        If aShape.Type = msoTextBox Then
        End If
End Sub

Finally, if the text box still appears on the printout, it could be that you aren't dealing with a text box at all. It could be that what you are seeing is actually a comment box that is configured to print but not display on the screen. You can use the Object Browser (discussed in other issues of WordTips) to easily step through any comments that may be in your document.


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 (10074) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Finding an Invisible Text Box.

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. ...


Deriving Antilogs

Creating math formulas is a particular strong point of Excel. Not all the functions that you may need are built directly ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Blank Labels in a Filtered Merge

If you are filtering a mail merge in Excel, and you get blank labels in the printout in Word, chances are good that ...

Discover More

Determining Winners, by Category

Do you need to determine the top three values in a range of columns? The techniques discussed in this tip will come in ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Adding Sidebars

When designing your document, you may want to use sidebars like you see in magazines and some books. This tip explains ...

Discover More

Columns within Text Boxes

When creating a layout for your document, you might use text boxes to position text in specific places. If you want those ...

Discover More

Wrapping Text around a Graphic in a Text Box

Word allows you to wrap text around a graphic or around a text box, but it won't allow you to wrap text in a text box ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven less than 7?

2021-03-14 23:43:48


Hi Allen,
I am using office 2019. when I searching a word though the navigation (Ctrl+F), the list will pops up. however, list shows several text box text box which all are invisible.
I have tired all method you suggested but I was not able to detect and remove them.

is there any other way to detect/delete the hidden text box?

Thank you

2021-01-29 16:10:37

Malcolm Rowe

Hi Allen.

I have a slightly different issue. As a translator/proofreader, I am frequently sent OCR files where thee OCR system can't work out the logic behind why text is placed as it is on the page and just sticks some of the text into random text boxes (or possibly frames) with no outline. I prefer to rearrange this into the proper flow of the document, moving most of the text from its text boxes but it can be tricky to spot all of the instances. Is there a way to tell Word to show text box outlines in the same way that Table gridlines can be displayed?

2020-01-10 09:00:49

Jennifer Thomas

This was covered in a response from 'Susan' to an article about Object Browser (which was removed from Word after 2010), but it's relevant here.

To find text boxes and other objects, press Ctrl+G (go to), choose Graphics from the drop-down list and the click Next - it will jump to the next object and one of those is going to be your invisible text box. This is very quick and easy!

2020-01-10 08:39:22

Jens Holme Bjørneboe

I tend to use the Ctrl+A before going to more drastically measures. When marking ALL features in the document, hidden artworks and such are also shown as selected (grayed feature) and much more visible.

2019-09-05 06:20:55

Cian Joyce

Thanks Allen,

Was missing a text box for a good 20 minutes... article helped me to unclick a box and get it back appearing ;)

Thanks again,


2019-08-27 17:42:02



Text boxes (like other objects) are anchored in the document, typically to a paragraph. Chances are good that the text box is anchored to one of the paragraphs you selected, so the anchor is selected, and, thus, the text box is selected.

You can see where the anchor is located by turning on the display of non-printing characters in your document. (Click the pilcrow character -- the backwards P -- on the Home tab of the ribbon.) Move the anchor so it is not associated with a paragraph you are selecting, and you will have a much easier time.


2019-08-27 17:21:13

Gina Sharpe

Hi Allen! I have a question. When I select several lines in my WORD 2016 document, it automatically selects my text box too. I need to copy these several lines further down in my document, but I don't need the text box to be copied too.

Can you tell me why this happens and how to fix it so it doesn't happen going forward? I can send a sample if that would be helpful.

Thank you,

2018-08-09 12:43:17


Hi Allen, I'm having an issue with a text box used as a border for images and other text boxes in a working word file. I am trying to select the the text box to change the border color bur cannot select it. I used the selection pane as you mentioned above. It lists all text boxes, shapes and pictures used, but the listed name "text box1" I'm trying to edit, is lighter in text color than the rest . Any suggestions on how to get to the box?

2018-08-04 07:15:48


THANK YOU! I have been trying for so long to get rid of a text box that was printing but not showing on screen. The macro worked beautifully.

2018-05-17 00:15:03

Sneha Akula

Thanks for the tips!

My captions were put in as separate text boxes and were somehow hidden, after going to selection pane I chose the selection to be on the top corner and I was able to delete them.

2017-08-09 08:02:35


I read this tip, but was not able to do the selection of all the text boxes which has no fill & line.
I don't want to delete them, only to see that they exists but it only shows me the one in which my cursor is in it.
I'm unable to select or to see multiple text boxes in one page and/or at all the document.
thank you very much

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.