Show or Hide White Space in Microsoft Word Documents

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated March 22, 2021

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

You can show or hide white space at the top and bottom of pages in Microsoft Word documents. If you hide white space, you won’t be able to see headers, footers or top and bottom margins in Print Layout View. The gray space that typically appears at the top and bottom of pages as you scroll through your document will also disappear. If you want to show or hide spaces between words, you’ll need to click Show/Hide ¶ on the Home tab in the Ribbon.

Print Layout View is the default view in Word. You can click the View tab in the Ribbon and select Print Layout in the Views group to go to this view if necessary.

In Word documents, margins are set for the top and bottom of pages by default and can be changed on the Layout tab in the Ribbon. Headers and footers appear in the top and bottom margin areas (with the exception of floating objects) so if white space is hidden, headers and footers may seem to be missing.

Recommended article: How to Hide Comments in Word (or Display Them)

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Showing or hiding white space using a shortcut

To show or hide white space in Word using a shortcut:

  1. Position the cursor at the top of the document (you can press Ctrl + Home to move the cursor to the top of the document).
  2. Move the pointer into the gray area just above the first page (below the Ruler) until the pointer turns into an up and down arrow. A message appears to Double-click to show white space or Double-click to hide white space.
  3. Double-click. If you are hiding white space, you can also position the pointer in the gray area between pages and then double-click.

If you show or hide white space, this setting will continue in any new documents you create. When white space is hidden, the setting affects not just the white space between pages but anything that is part of the header or footer (including watermarks and other graphics anchored to the header or footer). When you save and close a document, the setting is retained in the document.

If you hide white space, page breaks are still visible in the document. If you print the document, the headers and footers will print even if white space is hidden.

Showing or hiding white space using the Options dialog box

To show or hide white space using the Word Options dialog box:

  1. Open a Word document where you want to show or hide white space.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Select Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. In the categories on the left, select Display.
  5. In the pane on the right, check or uncheck Show whitespace between pages in Print Layout view.
  6. Click OK.

The Options dialog box, with the Display category selected, appears as follows:

Show or hide white space in Word using Options dialog box.

Because this feature isn’t obvious, it can cause problems for users if areas in their document seem to be missing (such as headers or footers).

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Summary
How to Show or Hide White Space in Word Documents
Article Name
How to Show or Hide White Space in Word Documents
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You can show or hide white space at the top and bottom of pages in Microsoft Word documents. If you hide white space, you won’t be able to see headers, footers or top and bottom margins in Print Layout View. The gray space that typically appears at the top and bottom of pages as you scroll through your document will also disappear. If you want to show or hide spaces between words, you'll need to click Show/Hide ¶ on the Home tab in the Ribbon.
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Avantix Learning

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