Make a distraction free Microsoft Word

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If you’re the sort of person who’s easily distracted, or just want to focus on the content of your document without worrying about formatting, there are a number of ways you can clear the distractions from Microsoft Word, so you can focus on the text you’re writing.

Minimize the Ribbon

Remove the entire ribbon from view so that you only see the headings for each tab at the top of your screen.

You can still access the ribbon easily by clicking the appropriate tab heading to drop the ribbon down temporarily. It will disappear again once you click away from it again.

Word shortcuts, including Alt key ribbon shortcuts, still work with the minimized ribbon.

The quickest way to minimize the ribbon is by typing Control-F1. To return the ribbon to view, press Control-F1 again.  Double-clicking on any tab will do the same thing.

Alternatively, you can hide the ribbon by clicking on the up arrow at the bottom right corner of the ribbon:

To restore the ribbon using the mouse, click on the View tab to show the ribbon, then click the pin icon on the bottom right corner.

The ribbon minimization is ‘sticky’ in that the ribbon will appear if you select a command but disappear automatically afterwards.

Web Layout

Another, slightly different way of decluttering your workspace is to view your document in web layout. This layout removes the page breaks and margins from the display and can be useful for early drafts of a document (paper or online), or when you want to focus solely on the content and not the formatting.

Draft mode is similar but images don’t appear and a lot of formatting doesn’t show up.  Modern Web Layout is a compromise between a fully formatted display and Draft.

To view your document in this format, just go to View | Web Layout.

When you you’re ready to see how the document will look on the printed page or PDF, just select View | Print Layout to return to the standard format.

Going Full Screen

If even the ribbon headings are too much distraction for you, you can go full screen, which will remove everything except the content you are working on.

Using a Keyboard Shortcut

To go full screen using the keyboard, simply press Alt V, then press U.   This mode is truly distraction free with no ribbons etc.

To exit full screen mode, simply press Esc.

Focus View

Word 365 is getting has a similar full screen mode called Focus – View | Immersive | Focus.

Focus is currently available to Office 365 Insiders but will be unleashed on regular Office 365 users soon, we hope.

Focus is different from the older full-screen view because it includes the two rulers and the ribbon can appear.  Click on the ‘three dots’ at top center to make the ribbon drop down.

Full Screen from the Quick Access Toolbar

If full screen is something you will be using regularly, you may want to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar so you can use a single mouse click to change to this mode.

To do so, click the arrow next to the other Quick Access icons to drop down the menu, then click on More Commands at the bottom of the menu.

Next, select All Commands, scroll down till you find Toggle Full Screen View, and click Add. Click OK after ensuring the option now appears in the box on the right-hand side.

Once you have added the Toggle Full Screen option to the Quick Access Toolbar, you can go to full screen with a single click of the Full Screen button.

Again, to exit full screen mode, just hit the Esc key.

Beyond Word

Of course, managing distractions means changing settings beyond just Word or Office.

Focus Assist

Focus Assist in Windows 10 goes some way to stopping pop-up messages and alerts.


Windows 10 for Microsoft Office users covers Focus Assist in detail, part of the Configure chapter.

Other things to try are cutting off email by either switching Outlook to Offline mode, shutting down Outlook completely.  Some people disconnect themselves from the Internet (turn off Wifi or unplug the cable) just to get some work done!


Each of these methods of clearing your workspace has slightly different effects. You can try just one, or combine two or all of these methods, depending on how clear you want your screen to be and which features you still want access to.

Learning Word keyboard shortcuts helps you work faster but also reduces the need for the ribbon and other onscreen distractions.

And remember, while in Minimize Ribbon or Web Layout views, you will still have access to menus if you can’t recall the keyboard shortcuts to get back to standard view, but once in Full Screen mode, you must remember that the Esc key is your way back out when none of the menus are visible.

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