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: Shortcut for Show/Hide.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 24, 2021)
Word has a number of non-printing characters that it commonly uses in a document. These characters include spaces, tabs, paragraph marks, and a few other such characters. When you are editing and formatting documents, it is often useful to view these characters, as they can affect the appearance of your document.
The normal way to display the non-printing characters is to click on the Show/Hide tool (it looks like it has a backwards P—a pilcrow character—on it). If you are loathe to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to use the mouse, you might want to memorize a quick little shortcut: Ctrl+* (that's the asterisk), which can also be written as Shift+Ctrl+8. This shortcut key toggles the Show/Hide tool on and off.
Note that this keyboard shortcut only works on the 8 key on the alphabetic keyboard—not on the numeric keypad. So, pressing Ctrl+* (multiplication key) on the numeric keypad will not work to toggle the Show/Hide tool.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13029) 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: Shortcut for Show/Hide.
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