How-To Geek

How to Use the Reveal Formatting Feature in Word 2010


Are you used to the Reveal Codes feature in WordPerfect? These codes show you your text with integrated formatting codes that seem similar to HTML formatting. However, if you’re using Word, there is no comparable function.

WordPerfect treats text and formatting codes the same, putting start and end codes around text as you format it. When you display the Reveal Codes window, you see the formatting code markers integrated with the text. You can select the code markers and even insert and delete them manually. For example, if you manually delete an end code, the rest of the document will be formatted according to the start code that now has no corresponding end code.


In Word, text and formatting are treated completely independently.  Word stores the formatting for the text in a different part of the file than the text to which the formatting applies. It is not inserted in the text stream. Instead, Word tracks the character and paragraph formatting you apply throughout your document, and does concern itself with start and end codes.

Whereas WordPerfect has both modes, WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) and Reveal Codes, Word only has the WYSIWYG mode. You apply bold to some text and you see that text as bold text. You cannot see the bold codes around your text.

However, there is a way to see how selected text is formatted. Word won’t show you start and end codes like WordPerfect because it doesn’t use them. But, when you select some text in Word and press Shift + F1, the Reveal Formatting pane displays. Word shows you, in list format, how the selected text is formatted with respect to the Font, Paragraph, and Section.


If you want to change the formatting of the selected text, you can do so using the Reveal Formatting pane. For example, if you want to make the selected text not bold, but italic instead, click the Font link in the Reveal Formatting pane.


The Font dialog box displays. Make any changes you want and click OK. The text reflects the change as does the Reveal Formatting pane.


Do not confuse the Reveal Formatting pane with the feature in Word that shows hidden formatting symbols. Clicking the paragraph symbol in the Paragraph section of the Home tab, shows hidden symbols such as spaces, tabs, and paragraph marks. These are different than the formatting listed on the Reveal Formatting pane.

NOTE: You can also press Ctrl + * to show and hide the formatting symbols.


You might want to show both the Reveal Formatting pane and the hidden formatting symbols to easily track your formatting and the spacing between words and paragraphs and tabs.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 02/9/12

Comments (5)

  1. nova1

    thanks! i didn’t know about this.

  2. Biker

    Thank You !
    Great article ! I was wondering how to display the paragraph characters in office 2010.

  3. John Joseph

    So simple . . . and so useful.
    Thank You !

  4. zepe

    Been waiting for this for years! I would think it should work in 2007. Does this work in Office 2007 or Office 2003?

  5. JWoolley

    @zepe: It works in Office 2003.

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