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on ADD Balance by Madison Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Kenyon

with input and suggestions from many on
the Microsoft Newsgroups and at Woody's Lounge

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This page last revised: 03 Jan 2020 17:23:13 -0500 .

History and Workarounds

Microsoft Word has long had the option of displaying the page margins as 'text boundaries.' Here is a screenshot from Word 97 with them displayed and with the option dialog that turns display on or off:

Note that the Horizontal and Vertical Rulers also display the margins, but this is not quite as intuitive for many users. Here are two screenshots of the same document in Word 2010 with Text Boundaries displayed and not displayed:

Many Word users use this feature to tell them, at a glance, where their page margins are. Shauna Kelly recommended turning them on in her beginner's tutorial. Personally, I found them distracting and simply used the Rulers.

Microsoft word 2013 for mac

However, the designers at Microsoft were apparently unaware that these dotted lines were even being used for this purpose and changed their text layout engine in Word. This changed the display of these dotted lines to a paragraph boundary rather than a page boundary. There is no way to change this display in Word 2013-2019/365 and it is highly unlikely that it will be changed back.

Word 2013 For Mac

As reported by Suzanne Barnhill and others, Microsoft's take on this is that text boundaries are 'a feature that was never supposed to be a feature,' 'a window into the internals of word' that should probably never have been exposed to users.

The feature 'just draws a border around [Word's] internal drawing rectangles,' and those have now changed with the switch to a hardware-accelerated display. So Word 'is doing precisely what it has always done (drawing borders around internal data structures). Unfortunately, this means that scenarios that used to work accidentally now don’t work the same way. There’s really no way to bring back the old functionality – it truly doesn’t exist.'

If the document in Word 2013 is opened in compatibility mode to any earlier version of Word the boundaries revert to the previous display. For those interested, here is a link to a lengthy discussion of this change with workarounds:

For sample templates that have two of the discussed workarounds for Word 2013-2019/365 see my Downloads Page.

If you feel that Microsoft should change these back, here is a page where you can let them know. (It has been 'under consideration' since 2015.) More votes won't hurt.

How to Get Rid of Them!

It depends on which version of Word you are using.

Word for Windows

Word 2007 (and later) on Windows

File > (Word) Options > Advanced

Word 97-2003 on Windows

Tools > Options > View

Word for the Mac

Word > Preferences > View

Images from Philip Jones' post on the Microsoft Answers Forum.

Word 2016 (and later?) on the Mac

Word 2011 on the Mac

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Copyright 2000-2020 Charles Kyle Kenyon

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FAQ provided as an adjunct / hobby as a part of my web site as a criminal defense lawyer.