Mysterious Boxes around Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 11, 2015)

7

Timothy apparently hit some control key that caused paragraphs in his document to appear in a box. The box enlarges with long sentences; pressing Enter begins a new box. The boxes do not print (thankfully), but they appear in new blank documents. It is as if there were a one-cell table, but there isn't. Selecting the paragraphs and formatting for "no border" does not make the boxes go away. If Timothy just knew what to call it, he's sure he could find the answer, but he's stumped as to why this is happening.

If this problem crops up and you are using Word 2013, it is very possible that you've inadvertently turned on the display of text boundaries. In older versions of Word, turning on text boundaries displayed a border on the page corresponding to the margins. In Word 2013 the text boundaries are displayed around each paragraph on the page. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Text boundaries appear around individual paragraphs.

If this is your problem, you can turn off the display of text boundaries in this manner:

  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. At the left side of the screen click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the options until you see the Show Document Content section. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. Advanced options in the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Show Text Boundaries check box is cleared.
  6. Click OK.

If that does not fix your problem (or if you are not using Word 2013), then check the style formatting for the Normal paragraph style. (How you modify styles has been discussed frequently in other WordTips.) In the universe of styles, the Normal style holds preeminence. It is the "root" style for almost all other built-in styles, and even for many custom styles.

The bottom line is that if the Normal style is formatted to have a box around it, then there is a good chance that all your paragraphs will have boxes around them. Check the style formatting and remove any boxes that may be associated with the style, and your problem may be immediately fixed.

In all honesty, though, the problem probably isn't related to the Normal paragraph style. If it were, then the boxes would also print, and Timothy specifically said that his boxes didn't print. There is, however, one final possibility—document or template corruption.

If the problem occurs in only a single document or a handful of documents, it could be that either the document or the template on which the document is based is corrupted in some way. Start by locating the Normal template (outside of Word) and renaming it to something else. Then, start Word and open the offending document. Create a new document and copy everything from the problem document (with the exception of the ending paragraph mark) to the new document. This process is detailed in this tip:

http://wordribbon.tips.net/T013284

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10385) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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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Comments

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What is five minus 0?

2019-05-19 16:56:22

Kaz

Mysterious boxes around paragraphs (text boundaries)
Thank you so much, I have been inable to get rid of these for months. I have googled the life out of this problem and then I found you. A friend sent me the link to your page. Long term problem solved in seconds.


2019-04-22 14:22:29

F Ryan

Hello Allan,

Thanks for this. It ended a morning's worth of frustration. What I did find though, in my case, the "Show Text Boundaries" option was the culprit but your advice put me in the right spot for a solution.


2019-03-02 21:37:30

David

You are a genius! I have been struggling with those boxes around my text for months. Word help said I had to upgrade my Mac from El Capitan to Mojave to solve the problem I did that with great difficulty because the new OS couldn't format my disk properly. Had no computer for 4 days while Apple looked at the problem. Interestingly early on I tried deleting the normal and plist files and reinstalling Word which didn't work. Got my newly upgraded computer back went into Word and still had the boxes! Very frustrating. So glad i saw your article today!! Thank you!! David


2018-08-06 18:41:51

Greg

Thank you Allen
The lines from Show Text Boundaries have made using Word very annoying, and you're the only source I could find to explain the issue.


2018-06-13 00:30:46

J.H

Thank you very much for the tips. Those mysterious boxes have driven me crazy. Now, they are all clear.


2018-01-28 21:54:41

Una

THANK YOU THANK YOU. That had me driven mental


2017-09-03 23:21:48

Mel

If you're using a Mac (I have Word 2016), then you should follow these instructions:

1. Open the File tab
2. Hit "View"
3. Find "Text Boundaries" box (to the right side under Object anchors)
4. If it has a check, then unclick it.
5. CELEBRATE your major life accomplishment! XD


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