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: Shortcut for Show/Hide.

Shortcut for Show/Hide

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 22, 2014)


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.

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, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Shortcut for Show/Hide.

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 five more than 3?

2015-11-09 09:26:56


YOU are the BEST!!!!
Thanks so very, very much!
Have a GREAT week!!

2015-11-08 09:18:15

Tom Redd

The simplest way to get the ribbon back is to double click any one of the tabs.

2015-11-07 08:24:48


Somehow I lost my icon ribbon under my command tabs at the top of the word doc. How can I get that back? Read somewhere to go to the Word preferences but I have no idea how to do that.
Thanks in advance for your help!

2014-03-26 12:16:17


I am in Word 2013 and this didn't work at all for me.

2014-03-24 11:39:18


In 2010 you can also use Alt then h then 8

2014-03-23 08:36:28


Yeah, and <Ctrl+*> where the numeric keypad “*” (asterisk or multiplier) is used does not work in word 2010!
So if you hover the mouse pointer over the ribbon command, the tool tip should really advise <Ctrl+Shift+8> and NOT <Ctrl+*> - It would seem Microsoft do not recognise the numeric keypad facility for keyboard short cuts.

2014-03-22 13:22:43



If you read the last paragraph it says "Ctrl+* (that's the asterisk), which can also be written as Shift+Ctrl+8."

On my keyboard, the two are equivalent. You get to the asterisk by holding down the Shift key as you press the 8 key. (The 8 key on the keyboard, not the one on the numeric keypad.)


2014-03-22 12:22:09


This only works with the number 8 above the alphabetic keyboard, not with the number 8 in the numerical keyboard on the side of the alphabetic keyboard.

2014-03-22 12:06:25

sURENDERA m. Bhanot

This command works with <Ctrl+Shift+8> and not with <Ctrl+*> in word2010.

If you hover the mouse pointer over most the ribbon commands, the tool tip appeal. Most of these tooltips contain the keyboard shortcuts to. Try remembering them and using them it’s a great convenience to activate commands with keyboard rather that mouse.

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