Remove Paragraph Marks or Hard Returns in Microsoft Word Documents

Article by: Avantix Learning Team | Updated January 10, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)

You can easily remove or delete hard returns or paragraph marks in Microsoft Word using Find and Replace. In order to view and delete hard returns, you should display paragraph marks or symbols. In Word, it’s better not use use hard returns (where you’ve pressed Enter or Return) to handle spacing after paragraphs or create new pages. The fastest way to remove extra hard returns (typically two hard returns) is to use Word’s Find and Replace command and special characters.

Recommended article: How to Add or Remove Page Breaks in Microsoft Word

Showing hard returns or paragraph marks

To view hard returns or paragraph marks and other non-printing characters in Microsoft Word:

  1. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group Paragraph marks, tabs, spacing and manual page breaks will display but will not print. Click the same button to hide the paragraph marks and other nonprinting symbols.

Removing a single hard return or paragraph mark

You can remove a single hard return or paragraph mark by dragging over it and pressing Delete.

Removing hard returns or paragraph marks using Find and Replace

Although you can select hard returns and press Delete to delete them, if you have a long document, it’s easier to use Find and Replace to delete extra hard returns. Typically, you’ll want to replace two hard returns with one.

To remove two hard returns or paragraph marks and replace with one using Find and Replace:

  1. Save a copy of the Word document.
  2. In the copy, position the cursor at the beginning of the document.
  3. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  4. Click Replace in the Editing group or press Ctrl + H. The Replace dialog box appears.
  5. Click More >> to expand the dialog box (if necessary).
  6. Click in the Find what box.
  7. From the Special menu, choose Paragraph Mark. The characters “^p” will appear.
  8. From the Special menu, choose Paragraph Mark again. Two paragraph mark codes should appear (his represents two hard returns).
  9. Click in the Replace with box.
  10. Ensure there is nothing in the Replace with box by pressing Delete (multiple times if necessary).
  11. From the Special menu, choose Paragraph Mark. The characters “^p” will appear.
  12. Click Find Next.
  13. Click Replace and then click Find Next to go to the next instance. Repeat for each instance. If you want to remove all instances of two hard return and replace with one hard return, click Replace All.

Below is the expanded Find and Replace dialog box:

Remove paragraph marks or hard returns in Word using Find and Replace dialog box.

Find and Replace is an extremely useful dialog box in Word. You can use it to find and replace formatting, styles and other special characters.

Moving forward, it’s best practice to use paragaph spacing (before and after paragraphs) to handle spacing rather than pressing Return or Enter twice after titles, subheadings and body paragraphs.

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Summary
How to Remove Paragraph Marks or Hard Returns in Word
Article Name
How to Remove Paragraph Marks or Hard Returns in Word
Description
You can easily remove or delete hard returns or paragraph marks in Microsoft Word using Find and Replace. In order to view and delete hard returns, you should display paragraph marks or symbols. In Word, it's better not use use hard returns (where you've pressed Enter or Return) to handle spacing after paragraphs or create new pages. The fastest way to remove extra hard returns (typically two hard returns) is to use Word's Find and Replace command and special characters.
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Avantix Learning

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