Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Protecting Hidden Text.

Protecting Hidden Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 3, 2018)

Hidden text is a great help to those who want to "hide" certain parts of a document, either from viewing or from printing. However, it is not very good for hiding information that you don't want others to see in a document you are distributing. They (the ones to whom you are distributing the document) can display or print hidden text just as easily as you can.

There is no built-in feature of Word that allows you to "lock" hidden text so it can't be viewed. The best solution, then, is to simply remove all your hidden text as a last step before distributing your document. You can do this by using the Search and Replace features of Word, as follows:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click on the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Position the insertion point in Find What box and make sure it is empty.
  5. Click on the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Find Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Find Font dialog box.

  7. Click on the Hidden attribute check box until it has a solid black check mark in it. (You may have to click it more than once.)
  8. Click on OK. The Find Font dialog box disappears and the words "Format: Hidden" should appear just below the Find What box.
  9. Make sure the Replace With box is empty.
  10. Click on Replace All.

If you find yourself stripping out hidden text quite a bit, you can automate the process by recording a macro that performs the above steps, or you can use the following macro:

Sub StripAllHidden()
    Dim rngsStories As Word.StoryRanges
    Dim rngStory As Word.Range

    On Error GoTo NoDocOpen
        Set rngsStories = ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
    On Error GoTo 0

    'Need to loop through all 'stories' to
    'remove hidden text from footnotes, headers,
    'etc. as well as body text.

    For Each rngStory In rngsStories
        With rngStory.Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Font.Hidden = True
            Call .Execute(vbNullString, False, False, False, _
                False, False, True, wdFindContinue, True, _
                ReplaceWith:=vbNullString, _
                    Replace:=wdReplaceAll)
        End With
    Next
    Exit Sub
NoDocOpen:
End Sub

The other advantage of using this macro is that it will also look for hidden text in places where the regular Search and Replace function won't: footnotes, endnotes, headers, footers, etc.

Note:

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 (12438) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Protecting Hidden Text.

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

Inserting a Bullet

Need to place a bullet in the middle of a sentence? There are a couple of easy ways you can do this, as described in this ...

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

Condensing Sequential Values to a Single Row

If you have a bunch of ZIP Codes or part numbers in a list, you may want to "condense" the list so that sequential series ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Shortening Word's Font List

When you format the text in a document, you can use any of the fonts that Word makes available to you. If that font list ...

Discover More

Accurate Font Sizes

Want to get your typeface exactly the right size? Here's how you can specify just the size you want Word to use.

Discover More

Letters Turn Into Squares

Imagine that you are typing away, and all of a sudden your beautiful prose turns into a series of small rectangles that ...

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. 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 three more than 5?

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.