Word has two different modes used for editing text – Insert mode and Overtype mode. Insert mode is the default and more commonly used mode. In Insert mode, text you type is inserted at the insertion point.

However there may be times when you want to replace text as you type. Overtype mode accomplishes this by replacing whatever is to the right of the insertion point as you type.

By default, there is no easy way of finding out which mode is currently active except by typing and seeing what happens. You can add an indicator to the status bar at the bottom of the Word window that both tells you which mode is currently active and allows you to quickly switch modes. We will show you multiple ways to switch modes and how turn on this indicator.

The Insert mode is active by default, so we’ll show you how to turn on Overtype mode. In Word, click the “File” tab.

On the “Info” screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

The “Word Options” dialog box displays. Click “Advanced” in the list of items on the left.

In the “Editing options” section, click the “Use overtype mode” check box so there is a check mark in it.

NOTE: If you want to use the “Insert” key on the keyboard to quickly switch between the two modes, click the “Use the Insert key to control overtype mode” check box so there is a check mark in it.

Click “OK” to close the “Word Options” dialog box.

To add an indicator for Insert/Overtype mode to the status bar, right-click on a blank spot on the status bar. A large list of items that can be added to the status bar displays on a popup menu. Items preceded by a check mark are currently displayed on the status bar; if there is no check mark to the left of an item, that item is not included on the status bar. Select “Overtype” from the popup menu.

An indicator immediately displays on the left side of the status bar, reading either “Insert” or “Overtype,” depending on which mode is active. In addition to the methods we previously mentioned for switching between the Insert and Overtype modes, you can also click on the indicator to switch modes.

If you decide you don’t want the indicator visible on the status bar, you can easily disable it by right-clicking on the status bar and selecting “Overtype” from the popup menu again, removing the check mark from the item. If you have a smaller screen, you may not want the indicator to take up room on the status bar. However, you may not know which mode is active until you start typing.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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