How do I…: Hide the non printable formatting marks in Outlook 2007?


Here’s the situation; you’re working away, minding your own business, you go to send an email, and BAM! Pilcrow overload! Where did all these characters come from? How do I get rid of them?

What you are seeing are the “non printable formatting” characters that are used by Office programs to determine the layout of your document. I’m not quite sure how most people end up with these displayed (since the default setting is for them to be hidden), but I do know that unless you are trying to fix a really tricky formatting issue, they are totally useless!

Fortunately the fix is very easy, and works not only in Outlook, but also in Word, and in all of the 2000, XP, 2003, and 2007 versions of both programs.

There is a keyboard shortcut to show or hide these characters as needed: CTRL+SHIFT+8 (don’t use the 8 on the 10 key, use the one on top of the keyboard – technically these are totally different keys). Voila! no more formatting marks.

There are ways to do this through the individual program menus as well, but why try to memorize umpteen different ways when the keyboard shortcut works in all of them?



6 Responses to How do I…: Hide the non printable formatting marks in Outlook 2007?

  1. aa says:

    thanks. this helped. I was wondering what I had to press to display these characters. I still can’t recall pressing these three keys at one time. anyhow, this helped. thanks.

  2. wonduvah!!! says:

    Thank you! I frittered away at my computer for an hour tryng to figure out what the hell I did to make the formatting characters show up! LMAO…. how weird!

    Totally helpful!

    Now I plan to go around the office and press CTRL+SHIFT+8 on all my colleagues computers if they walk away and leave it unlocked..

    Best joke ever!!!!

    (Well that and turning the screen image upside down)

  3. Keith says:

    such a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig help! thanks a lot. 🙂

  4. cheri says:

    this did not work

  5. Tamar says:


  6. Joe says:

    Thanks for the tip. Cheri: make sure you put your cursor in the body text field of the message. The shortcut will not work when pressed anywhere else (like in the TO or CC fields or in the outlook inbox view).

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