How to Conceal and Display Hidden Text


Q. Some of my reports contain information I do not wish certain people to see. Rather than prepare two reports, I understand there’s a way to variously hide and then display text with just a few mouse clicks. How do I do that?

A. That’s correct. Hiding text is a two-step operation. And understand that you also have to set the default condition within Word so hidden text can be either viewed or hidden. We’ll get to that later. Let’s walk through the steps.

To demonstrate, I will create the following paragraph in which one sentence will later be hidden:

This material is top secret. With the click of a mouse, this sentence will be hidden. Now you see it, now you don’t.

Only highlight the sentence, With the click of a mouse, this sentence will be hidden. Now click on Format , Font , bringing up the screen at right.

Under Effects place a check in the Hidden box and click on OK . Notice the sentence you highlighted now has tiny dots under it; that’s the visual clue that it’s ready to be hidden.

Since Word normally defaults to show hidden text (that’s why the potentially hidden sentence contains those dots), I now will change the default by going to Word’s default screen: On the toolbar click on Tools , Options and the View tab. Under Formatting marks , remove the check next to Hidden text and click on OK (see screenshot below).

Now when you return to the paragraph, notice that not only is the sentence hidden, but the surrounding text closes over it so a reader has no clue text was ever there.

Shortcut : Clearly, this is a cumbersome series of steps if you use hidden text often. So here is a one-click shortcut to make it appear and disappear. Instead of going through the rigmarole of changing the default, we’ll use the Show All icon ( ) to toggle between making the text visible and invisible. If the Show All icon is not already in the toolbar, click on Tools, Customize , then on the Commands tab, and under Categories , go to View and drag the Show All icon onto the toolbar.

Caveat : The hidden-text feature, while convenient, is not without danger. You may forget you have text on a page, and if you delete text in the area of the hidden text, you may accidentally delete the hidden text, too. Avoid this danger by making sure the hidden text is displayed only during the writing and editing stage.

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