Skip to content

Understand the Show All markers in Word

Here are the major marks Microsoft Word displays with the Show All option on. There’s common ones like Paragraph Mark, Tab and Space and lesser known such as optional hyphen and hidden text. Show All will also display the seven different types of break in Word.

Paragraph Mark, the symbol is called a Pilcrow.  It’s the symbol used for the ‘Show All’ button on the Home tab.

Line Breakangled arrow pointing left. 

Tab, a right pointing arrow 

Space, a dot in the middle of the line 

Hidden Text, dots under the text.  Hidden Text, Images and objects in Word

Optional hyphen, line with bend at end. Hyphens and Hyphenation, all the options in Word

Seven different Breaks in Word

The different types of breaks in Word get labelled except the Text Wrapping break. 

Column Break and Page Break 

Page Break

Whether it’s a manual paragraph setting or style setting, a page break appears as finely dotted line when Show All is on. 

No text explains that the dotted line is a page break, let alone what causes the page break.  You need to check the direct paragraph or style to find the cause. 

Section Breaks 

Section Breaks are hidden divisions between parts of a document. They can be continuous or force a new page, a new Even numbered page or a new Odd numbered page. 


Column Break

Column Break forces the following text to a new column, in multi-column sections.

You’ll normally see Section Break (Continuous) before and after a multiple column part of a document. The section break tells Word where to start and end the column setting.

See Shrink One Page or Shrink To Fit in Microsoft Word 

Better Ways to Shrink One Page in Microsoft Word 

Delete an Empty or Blank Page in Microsoft Word 

About this author