Mysterious Boxes around Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 11, 2015)

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Automatically Changing References to VBA Libraries

VBA libraries are used to provide some functions to your macros. These libraries are often tied to the version of Excel you ...

Discover More

Defeating Automatic Date Parsing

Excel is continually trying to figure out what type of data is being stored in a cell. If it can interpret a value as a date, ...

Discover More

Using Crop Marks with a PostScript Printer

Want to add crop marks to a printout? It's easy to do, provided you are using a PostScript printer.

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Adding Drop-Shadows to Paragraphs

Drop shadows are a style of paragraph border used to enhance the visual impact of a paragraph. They are also a great way to ...

Discover More

Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page

When formatting paragraphs in Word, you have several options to adjust the spacing before, within, and at the end of each ...

Discover More

Characters in the Margin Next to Paragraphs

Laying out a document can be, at times, a challenge. This is particularly the case when you need some special document ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. 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 minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

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.