Stopping Overtype

How to stop typing replacing or overwriting text.

Daysha B writes “What I type replaces my existing text. How do I turn this off? Thank you.”

As usual with Microsoft Office, nothing is as simple as it first appears.

Most people probably know that the immediate answer is ‘Press the Insert key’.

Insert (Ins) often switches the computer between

  • Normal text insert mode, where typing ‘pushes’ existing text to the right (or maybe left for some languages)

  • Overtype mode, where each letter pressed replaces the letter at the cursor.

Probably all Daysha has to do is press the Insert key and all will be well.

In Word 2003, Word 2002 and before it was easy to see if Overtype mode was on – look at the status bar for the OVR indicator. Black OVR text means the computer is in Overtype mode.

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Word 2003 - OVR Overtype indicator image from Stopping Overtype at

Sadly this useful indicator was dropped for Office 2007 and Office 2010. In addition the Insert key toggle was switched off by default . That means you can press the Insert key quite fruitlessly until you dig around the menus to work out that the action has been changed.

Go to Word options | Advanced | Editing options and find ‘Use the Insert key to control overtype mode’.

Word 2007 - Insert - Overtype option image from Stopping Overtype at

The secondary option ‘Use Overtype mode’ lets you toggle that option manually.

Right-clicking on the Word 2007/Word 2010 status bar reveals various options including another way to switch overtype mode.

Word 2007 Word 2010 - Overtype mode on status bar menu image from Stopping Overtype at