Making Highlighting Disappear when Typing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 20, 2018)

2

When James applies a highlight color (such as yellow) to a word, the background around that word turns yellow. When he then selects that highlighted word and types a new word over it, the new word appears, but the yellow highlighting remains. To get rid of the yellow highlighting, he must select the word again and "unhighlight" it. Since James has to do this hundreds of times a day, it gets old. He wonders if there is a way to make the highlighting disappear when selecting and typing over a word.

The short answer is that there is no easy way to do this. The reason, apparently, has to do with the your text and the highlighting being on different layers of the document. When you select some highlighted text and start typing, then you are affecting only the layer on which your text resides; the layer on which the highlighting resides is not affected.

There are a few workarounds you can try out, though. One is to simply press the Delete key after you select your text and before you start typing. This does affect both layers, and you can immediately begin typing without the lingering highlight.

A second approach is to use Word's shortcut key that controls highlighting: Ctrl+Alt+H. This shortcut toggles the highlight on whatever text is selected, so it is a quick way to turn the highlight on and off.

A third approach is great if you are using styles and the highlighted text doesn't have any explicit formatting (besides highlighting) attached to it. All you need to do after selecting the text is press Ctrl+Spacebar, which removes any explicit formatting, including the highlighting.

A fourth approach is to use a macro to remove the highlighting. The following will remove the highlighting from whatever text you have selected:

Sub RemoveHighlight1()
    Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdNoHighlight
    Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdNoHighlight
End Sub

You can assign this macro to a shortcut key, which will make it easy to apply as you are typing along. In many respects, it isn't much different than the second approaching I suggesting, using the Ctrl+Alt+H shortcut. You could, though, modify the macro just a bit to make it even more valuable:

Sub RemoveHighlight2()
    Selection.Words(1).Select
    Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdNoHighlight
    Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdNoHighlight
End Sub

Assuming you want to remove the highlighting from a word, all you need to do is position the insertion point within the word (no need to select the entire thing), run the macro, and then start typing. The macro selects the word and turns off highlighting, and since you start typing right after the macro is complete, you end up replacing whatever word you affected.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13574) 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 three more than 3?

2018-11-02 15:59:58

Lisa

Ctrl + spacebar doesn't work for me either. The highlighting remained.


2018-10-22 10:04:31

Fred Seelig

Allen, the first option only works if you delete to a point that doesn't have highlighting. (If you delete with highlighting continuing after what you deleted, it doesn't work.) I'm using Word 2016/365, but this has always been my experience, going back to Word 6.0 -- whatever styling was in the location that you just deleted remains active for whatever you type next. It's easiest to see this by turning on the Show/Hide function and experimenting.

Ctrl+Alt+H works fine.

Ctrl+Spacebar doesn't work for me. It changes other style attributes, such as font type and point size, but the highlighting remains.

I haven't tried the macro.


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