Mysterious Blue Line between Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 18, 2020)

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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