Invisible Formatting

Does anybody else hate MS Word’s invisible formatting? Where if you accidentally delete one then suddenly a big chunk of your file goes wonky? Does anyone know if there’s a way to reveal them?

Specifically I’m trying to post a story to a critique forum and just one phrase disappears though it’s formatting is totally identical to every other word in the document as far as I can tell. It’s the following sentence:

My jet touched down in Des Moines at eleven, and I walked into the diner at eleven thirty.

The “eleven thirty” at the end of the sentence disappears when I copy it to a particular forum. Blogger wouldn’t even allow the post because of HTML tags it didn’t like, so this is a retyping of it c(I’m not saying it’s Blogger’s fault, just further annoyance). That one sentence had about 100 lines of HTML formatting crammed around it.

A quick Google search reveals this is a common complaint about Word. Other word processors have an optional “reveal” that allows you to edit this stuff. *sigh* Why do I use Word again?

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David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

One thought on “Invisible Formatting”

  1. Maybe more useful in this instance would be the ability to strip all formatting. The crap new “ribbon” interface makes it nearly impossible to describe how to do anything in Word any more, so I suggest you search the help files for “clear all text formatting.”

    There is a toggle for “show or hide formatting marks that will reveal things like tabs, spaces, paragraph returns, etc, but I doubt this is the kind of formatting that’s causing your trouble. It’s the little “paragraph mark” button near the middle of the “home” ribbon.

    One other trick is to open a new document, copy your text, and use the “paste special” command to past it into the new document. Paste it as unformatted text to be certain, but pasting as RTF or HTML might also fix any mystery formatting problems while keeping most of the desired formatting intact, or at least make it easier to remove.

    Hope some of that helps.


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