Mysterious Blue Line between Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 22, 2019)


In the middle of a document, Word started inserting a blue line across the page between some (but not all) of Fred's paragraphs. He can grab the line with the mouse, like a line in a table, but he can't really move it. The line, however, prints. Fred wonders what causes the line and how to get rid of it.

It sounds like this blue line is actually a paragraph border. With the default formatting configuration in Word, these can be automatically (and, often, mistakenly) added to a document in many different ways. To get rid of the borders, follow these general steps:

  1. Put the insertion point within the paragraph that seems to have the extraneous blue line above it.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the down-arrow at the right of the Borders tool. Word displays a long list of options.
  4. Click the last option: Borders and Shading. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  5. Make sure the Borders tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Borders and Shading dialog box.

  7. Note the preview area at the right side of the dialog box; it will show if a border is turned on for the paragraph in which the insertion pointer is located.
  8. To remove the paragraph border, click the None setting at the left of the dialog box.
  9. Click OK.

That should get rid of the border. If it doesn't, then you may want to move the insertion point into the paragraph immediately above the blue line and repeat steps 2 through 8. The reason you should do this is that the blue line, appearing between paragraphs could be either below or above the paragraphs above and below it.

Of course, getting rid of the border on one paragraph may have the effect of causing the blue line to "jump" to another paragraph. The reason that this may happen is that Word can suppress borders for some paragraphs when the surrounding paragraphs have the same border turned on. If this happens, just keep playing "whack a mole" with the borders on each paragraph, following the above steps.

If you tire of playing "whack a mole," you could try selecting all the paragraphs in your document (press Ctrl+A) and then pressing Ctrl+Q. This removes any paragraph formatting from the selected paragraphs—including borders—and reverts the formatting to whatever is specified in the underlying styles. This approach is typically most satisfying when you are using styles for your formatting and none of those styles use paragraph borders. If you used explicit formatting for the paragraphs in your document, then pressing Ctrl+Q removes that explicit formatting, which could be quite frustrating.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12846) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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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What is 1 + 3?

2019-09-04 09:42:49

Amy Nucera

Thank you! This was bugging the heck out of me in a file that someone sent me and I was trying to reformat.

2018-01-23 14:02:13

Gary Delp

There is an additional way to find and reset the borders. You can use the Styles panel. See figure 1

(see Figure 1 below)
You first open the panel by clicking on the arrow on the bottom right of _Home->Styles_ (marked in the figure with the red circle). You are then going to customize what is displayed there. Click options on the Style pane that you just brought up and the Panel Style options will appear. I use the options shown in the figure above. The key option is _'Select formatting to show as styles -> paragraph level formatting'_ (lower red arrow).

If all of the paragraphs started as Body Text, the the ones with borders will show us as a sub-style dependent on Body Text. see _Body Text + Bottom: (Single solid line, Text 2, 2_ ...
See figure 2 to understand how to select all of the aberrant paragraphs
(see Figure 2 below)

In the _Styles Pane_ you can see that "Style" named above. You can mouse over the style. A _drop down arrow_ will appear. You can then _select all paragraphs_ ... and the paragraph with the unsaved style will all be highlighted. click on a style other than _Body Text_ and then click back on _Body Text_ . with that, the Border is gone.

If you cannot identify the style that generates the paragraph, just click on the paragraph. The Style of the paragraph in the _Style Pane_ will have a box around it. You can then Select all and fix all that are the same.

Figure 1. The Style Pane - how to get there - how to configure

Figure 2. Selecting the paragraphs with the offending Borders

2018-01-22 09:11:40


This reminds me of when you delete a Section break and the one in front of it changes to the type of break you deleted.
Example: Column break with a new page break preceding. When the column break is deleted the new page break changes to a column break. That can be great fun in a long document with various types of sections breaks.

My fix is to add a break after the column break that is like the one before. For our example insert a new page break after the column break and delete it. This will change the column break to a new page break and it can now be delete without changing the one preceding it.

2017-07-06 10:15:57

Michael Yaeger

Indeed, it was a border. Wierd...

2015-07-03 11:09:51


This worked a treat. Thanks.

2015-03-18 16:16:01


Just right-click the blue line and choose "Ignore once".

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