Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Controlling Overtype Mode.

Controlling Overtype Mode

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 13, 2017)

4

Word has two different editing modes you can use—insert mode and overtype mode. When insert mode (the default) is active, the information you type is inserted at (where else?) the insertion point. When overtype mode is active, information isn't inserted, but replaces whatever is to the right of the insertion point.

Word doesn't let you know, by default, if you are using overtype mode or not. The easiest way to tell is if, when you type, each character you type replaces a character previously in the document. You can also configure Word to display an indicator on the status bar. Right-click a blank spot on the status bar. Word displays a large list of items that can appear on the status bar. Each item that has a check mark next to it has a place on the status bar; if there is no check mark, then that item is excluded. You want to click the Overtype item so that it has a check mark. An indicator immediately appears near the left side of the status bar consisting either of the word Insert or Overtype. (By this point you can probably figure out what each word means.)

To control switching between insert and overtype modes, follow these steps:

  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 of the dialog box click Advanced. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Click on the Use Overtype Mode check box. (It is in the Editing portion of the options list.) If the check box is clear, then overtype mode is turned off and insert mode is active.
  5. Click on OK.

While you've got the dialog box open, you should also think strongly of choosing the Use the Insert Key to Control Overtype Mode option. With the option selected, the Insert key on your keyboard toggles between insert and overtype modes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12974) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Controlling Overtype Mode.

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 5 + 9?

2017-10-15 14:54:29

Peter Kirkpatrick

For those who use both settings it is definitely worth having the Insert indicator on your status bar, because it is not just for information. You can actually click on it to toggle between Insert and Overtype.


2015-04-08 10:56:26

Bringback MS 2007

let's face it...MS made a conscious decision to ignore intuitive, user-friendly features after office 2007......


2014-04-28 11:28:18

Rick

Is there any way to see if it's Overtype mode in Word 2013 without going to the settings each time (it IS available in the status bar in older versions)

Thanks
Rick


2014-02-25 15:51:42

wulflyng

What would be nicer is if the cursor changed shape when you were in overwrite mode so it was easier to notice. (I seldom pay attention to the statu bar.) I find I change into it inadvertently from time to time and while it is not the greatest inconvenience in the world, I wouldn't mind the additional nudge.


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