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 October 31, 2015)

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
            aShape.Delete
        End If
    Next
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.

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. ...

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