Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word


Office for Mere Mortals
Your beginners guide to the secrets of Microsoft Office
Invalid email address
Tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from Microsoft Office experts.  Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office for Mere Mortals has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy

We have recently discussed how to show hidden formatting characters in Word, but it is also possible to hide text and even images in Microsoft Word, as long as you are using Word on your computer.

At this stage, Word Online and Word phone apps don’t allow you to hide text.

See Find and Remove Hidden Text in Word

Hidden text positioning and formatting tricks in Word

Why hide?

Why would you want to do hide text or other elements?

Well, you might want the option to print the document without some of the text showing, or you might want different versions of the document for different people to work on without being distracted by unnecessary content.

This is not a security measure – anyone with access to the document can display hidden text and search for it. You are only hiding it for convenience or aesthetic purposes, not to keep it away from prying eyes.

A common use of hidden text is for a quiz. Instead of having two documents, one with the questions only and other with questions & answers. Use hidden text to hide the answers for a questions only version of the same document.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft office 32253 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in WordStudents quiz (left) and Teachers version (right) from the same document.

Hidden vs Visible

Before we go any further, lets clarify some terms used in Word. The terms Hidden and Visible have specific meanings in Word and the difference is important.

Hidden – is a text attribute, like Bold, Italics, Subscript etc.  It can be applied in the Font dialog or part of a style.

Unhidden – just means turning off the Hidden setting, which is the usual way.

Visible – means that text appears on the screen or page.  As you can see above right, text can be at the same time both Hidden (with dots underneath) and Visible (shows on the screen)

Text or objects can be Hidden and Invisible (above left) or Hidden and Visible (above right).  Of course, text is normally Unhidden and Visible.

There’s a trick to leaving space for answers that we’ll explain as well as using a style to quickly manage hidden text.

How to Hide Text

To hide a piece of text, select the text that you want to hide and either:

  • Type Control + Shift + H
  • Click the arrow at the bottom right of the Font group on the Home tab.

img 5dc907074cf82 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Then, in the Effects group, tick the Hidden box and click OK.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32256 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

How to Hide Images or other objects.

You can hide images or any other  objects in your text in exactly the same way – select the image and press Control+Shift+H or tick the Hidden box in the Font dialog.

This only works, however, if your image has been set to the default layout option of inline with text.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32257 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

If your image uses one of the text wrapping options, you will not be able to hide only the image – you will instead have to select the whole paragraph that contains the image and hide that.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32258 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Show Hidden Text

To temporarily view hidden text, without actually unhiding it, you do exactly as you would if you wanted to view hidden formatting characters. – type Control+Shift+8 or click the Show/Hide Button on the Home tab.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32259 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Any hidden content in the document will now be shown again, but with a dotted line underneath it.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32260 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Show ONLY hidden text

If you want to show only hidden text without all the clutter of paragraph marks, dots-for-spaces etc, change the settings for Show All at File | Options | Display | Always show these formatting marks on the screen.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32261 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

UNcheck all the boxes except make sure Hidden text is the only one selected.

Now the Hidden text is visible, just like the example above, but without the distracting extras.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32262 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Unhiding text or objects

Now that you can see the hidden text again, you can permanently unhide it the exact same way that you hid it – type Control+Shift+H or open the Font dialog on the ribbon and this time untick the Hidden box.

But it would be very time-consuming to do this for every hidden passage if you have a lot of them in a large document. If you want to permanently unhide all of the hidden text in your document, just select the whole document with Control+A and then open the Font dialog again. Note that this time, as you have selected a mixture of hidden and unhidden text, the Hidden box in the dialog will appear with a black square in it.

img 5dc9164d586e7 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

This time you will have to tick on the box twice – the first click will tick the box and hide all text, and the second click will untick it to unhide all the text.

Note that Control+Shift+H will not work for unhiding all the hidden text at once, because this is the equivalent to ticking the Hidden box, and will hide all of the text in your document, and hitting the same keys again won’t unhide the whole document, because it is no longer selected! If you do make this mistake, don’t panic – just type Control+A again to select all of your text and then you can use Control+Shift+H to make it appear again.

Finding within Hidden Text

Hidden text only appears in a Find when the text is visible on the page.

That’s important.  If you’re searching a document with hidden text, make sure Show All is ON.

Word Counts and Pagination

Most Word features treat hidden text like it doesn’t exist.

Word Counts ignore hidden text (visible or not).

Pagination and page counts ignore hidden text when it’s not visible on the page (e.g. hide two pages and the doc page count drops).

Hiding in Styles

Hidden is a formatting option in Styles so you can switch all text in a certain style from visible to hidden in a flash.

We did that for the quiz example above.  All the answers are in a character style cunningly called ‘Answers’.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32280 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Style | Format | Font | Hidden applies the hidden attribute.  You can see it listed in the style description.

To switch between the full document and students only version, only the Hidden option (Format | Font) needs changing.

Why a character style not a paragraph style?  That’s to leave space for answers.

Print or Don’t Print Hidden Text

When you print a document that has hidden text, by default the hidden text will not be printed, but you can choose to print it if you want. Unfortunately, you can’t choose this on a case by case basis when you’re printing; you have to set your choice in the Word Options before you print.

hidden text images and objects in word microsoft word 32281 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

To set this, go to File | Options | Display. Then go down to the Printing Options area and tick or untick the “Print hidden text” box, depending on your preference.

subs profile e1563205311409 - Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word
Latest news & secrets of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office experts give you tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office Watch has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy
Invalid email address