Have you ever wondered how to get rid of paragraph symbols in Word?

Maybe your client, boss or colleague asked you for help or maybe the paragraph symbols just randomly showed up as pictured below.

Paragraph symbols in Word

Either way, these are not manaully typed paragraph symbols that you have to get rid of in Word. Instead, they are formatting marks that you can turn on or off to help you format your Word documents properly.

You can get rid of these formatting marks by using either the Show/Hide ¶ command or turning them off in the Display tab of the Word Options dialog box.

As paragraph marks can be distracting, they have a time and place when formatting your Word documents. That’s why knowing how to quickly turn them on and off (using the two different techniques below) is useful for making you a savvier Word user.

NOTE: I’m using the Microsoft 365 subscription, the latest (and most frequently updated) version of the Microsoft Office suite. To learn more about it, check it out here.

1. Turn off Paragraph Symbol Command

The show hide paragraph symbol command in the Microsoft Word ribbon

On the Home tab of your Ribbon, click the Show/Hide ¶ command (which just looks like a paragraph symbol) to turn your paragraph marks on or off in your document.

It is important to note that on top of showing your paragraph symbols, the Show/Hide ¶ command also shows you the other hidden formatting symbols in your Word document. This includes your tab spaces, page breaks, space bar returns, etc. as you can see in the picture below.

Displaying hidden formatting spaces in Microsoft Word

Revealing these hidden formatting symbols enables you to format your Word documents better,  especially when working with page breaks or trying to hunt down a blank page in your document that you want to delete.

If you use the Show/Hide ¶ command and your paragraph symbols DO NOT disappear, that means you need to unselect them using the third technique in this article (unselecting the paragraph symbols using the Word Options dialog box).

To expand your knowledge of Microsoft Word and learn how to hide and remove comments as well, read our guide here.

NOTE: Turning the Show/Hide ¶ command on or off saves as a Word setting to your copy of Microsoft Word on your computer. That means that if you turn your paragraph symbols off, you will not see them again (in any new Word documents you open on your computer) until you turn them back on again.

The only exception to this rule is if you have turned your paragraph symbols on using the Word Options dialog box (the third technique in this article).

2. Turn off Paragraph Symbol Shortcut

If you are into speed and efficiency when working in Word (which you should be), then I recommend learning the Ctrl + * keyboard shortcut.

This shortcut is confusing at first, because to make it work you have to hit Ctrl + Shift + 8, which is the equivalent of hitting Ctrl + * equivalent.

The show hide paragraph symbol shortcut is control plus shift plus 8

NOTE: If you hover over the Show/Hide ¶ command in your Ribbon, the pop-up box tells you the shortcut is Ctrl + *. Remember that to make this work, the keys you need to hit are Ctrl + Shift + 8.

At first, it appears that Microsoft labeled the paragraph symbol shortcut incorrectly until you remember that Shift + 8 is the same as hitting the * key on your keyboard.

This shortcut allows you to quickly turn on or off not only your paragraph symbols but also all the other hidden formatting symbols in your document on the fly. That is why it is my preferred method for revealing formatting symbols in Word.

Simply hit Ctrl + Shift + 8 when you want to see the formatting symbols, and then hit Ctrl + Shift + 8 to make them disappear. In this way, you can bring up the formatting symbols when you need them to properly format your document, and then hide them again so you can focus on your document.

Once you familiarize yourself with this shortcut, I think you will use it all the time when working in Microsoft Word (I sure do).

3. Unselect the Paragraph Symbol in Word

Using the paragraph symbol in the Word Options dialog box to get rid of paragraph spacings

If using the Show/Hide ¶ command did not work for you, then you will need to unselect the paragraph symbol in the Word Options dialog box to get rid of your paragraph symbols.

  1. Click the File tab
  2. Click Options at the bottom of the File tab
  3. Select the Display tab
  4. Unselect the Paragraph Symbol

If you have the paragraph symbol selected in this dialog box, it means that they will display in all of your Word documents. In other words, with the Paragraph Symbol selected in the Word Options dialog box, the Show/Hide ¶ command will not work for you for getting rid of these formatting symbols.

In the same way, you can choose to show other hidden symbols in your Word documents.

Because the Ctrl + Shift + 8 shortcut is so easy to learn and use, I don’t recommend turning on your paragraph symbols or other hidden symbols using the Display tab in the Word Options dialog box.

That said, this is how you can get rid of any paragraph markers and other hidden formatting symbols that are showing up within your document when they are not supposed to.

To expand your knowledge of Microsoft Word and learn how to properly make a table of contents in Word, read our guide here.

NOTE: As pictured above, selecting the Show All Formatting Marks option at the bottom of the Word Options dialog box is the same as using the Show/Hide ¶ command in your Ribbon. Toggling this command on or off is the same as selecting or unselecting this option in the Word Options dialog box.

That’s why learning the Ctrl + Shift + 8 keyboard shortcut is so useful, as you can use it to quickly turn your paragraph markers on and off.

Final Thoughts on Paragraph Marks in Word

So those are the two different ways to get rid of paragraph symbols in Word.

While you can use the Ribbon to toggle them on and off, I recommend learning the Ctrl + Shift + 8 keyboard shortcut for two reasons.

Reason #1. The more shortcuts like this you know, the faster and more effective you will be in Microsoft Word. Period.

Reason #2. Being able to see your paragraph symbols (and other hidden fomratting symbols) makes formatting and trouble shooting your Word documents easier. So if you are not currently using the Show/Hide ¶ command to format your documents, now is the time to start using it.

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