MSWord Options 2 – Display field shading

Options – Display grey field shading

The Collins Dictionary says “A field is an area of a computer’s memory or a program where data can be entered, edited, or stored.” MSWord has fields such as date and author fields that it stores in its File Properties.

You cannot change the text in a field because it changes back as soon as you print the document.  You therefore need to be able to see fields so that you do not change them by mistake.  Word allows you to display the fields with a grey highlight.  In order to do so:

  1. Go to the File tab and select the Options button.
  2. In the left pane of the Word Options dialog box, select the Advanced option.
  3. In the right pane, under the heading, Show document content, change the Field Shading to “Always”, as shown below:
Word Options dialog box - Advanced > Show document content
Word Options > Advanced > Show document content

If you want to change a field in the text, you must first “lock” it (Ctrl+Shift+F9) and then make your change


Go to the Properties pane where the field originates and change the text there.  Go to the File tab, Info option to see the Properties pane on the right. Click in a field in the right-hand column of the Properties pane to add or change text.

If you cannot see the property you want, click Show All Properties, as shown below.

Word Options > Info > Properties > Show All Properties

Six more properties are displayed, as shown below, highlighted by an orange border.

The Properties pane has two columns. The fields are in the right-hand column and the field names are on the left.

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MSWord Options 1 – See hidden text

OptionsSee hidden text

To see section breaks, paragraph breaks, page breaks, tabs and spaces:

1. Click on the File tab.

2. Click on the Options option (at the bottom left).

File tab > Options option
File > Options

3. In the left pane of the Word Options dialog box, select the Display option.

The Word Options dialog box >  Display option
The Word Options dialog box > Display option

4. In the right pane, under the second heading, Always show these formatting marks on the screen, tick the box on the left of Show all formatting marks.

5. Do this whenever you are troubleshooting.

TIP  You can quickly toggle this option on or off by clicking the Show/Hide icon (which depicts a paragraph break symbol [called a pilcrow] – ¶) in the Paragraph group of the Home tab (or pressing the shortcut, Ctrl+shift+8).

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Create your own Microsoft Word Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcut Key Assignments (Commands)

To speed up the repetitive task of formatting reports, create shortcuts on your computer in its Normal template:

  • Open MSWord.
  • At the top left of your screen, click on the File tab.
  • A menu appears with three panes.  On the left are the options, in the centre is Information About the document, and on the right are the document Properties
  • In the left-hand section, at the bottom, select the Options option. 
What you get when you select the File tab.
  • The Word Options dialog box pops up.  
  • In the left pane, select the Customize Ribbon option.
  • The right pane changes into two panes.  Below the right-hand one is a Keyboard Shortcuts label.  
  • Click on the Customize… button next to it.
  • The Customize Keyboard dialog box pops up.  
  • In the Categories list box on the left, drag the scrollbar all the way down so that you can select the All Commands option.
  • In the Commands list box on the right, scroll down to select the AutofitContent option, which makes a table fit to its contents, instead of being as wide as the page.
  • Place your cursor in the Press new shortcut key edit box and enter the shortcut – I suggest Alt+Shift+A for AutofitContent.
  • Click on the Assign button at bottom left.
  • Repeat for all the COMMANDS listed below.
    • COMMAND AutofitWindow
      Description Fit the table between the left and right margins
      Shortcut = Alt+Ctrl+Shift+A
    • COMMAND FormatParagraph
      Description Change the appearance of the selected paragraph/s
      Shortcut = Alt+P
    • COMMAND FormatStyle
      Description Apply, create or modify the style
      Shortcut = Alt+S
    • COMMAND InsertCrossReference
      Description Insert a cross-reference
      Shortcut = F2
    • COMMAND InsertField
      Description Insert a field
      Shortcut = Alt+Ctrl+Shift+F
    • COMMAND InsertNewComment
      Description Insert a comment
      Shortcut = Alt+Ctrl+M
    • COMMAND InsertSectionBreak
      Description Start a new section
      Shortcut = Alt+Return
    • COMMAND ParaKeepWithNext
      Description Keep a paragraph and the following paragraph on the same page
      Shortcut = Alt+K
    • COMMAND ParaPageBreakBefore
      Description Make the current paragraph start on a new page
      Shortcut = Alt+Ctrl+Shift+P
    • COMMAND TableDeleteColumn
      Description Delete a table column
      Shortcut = Alt+Shift+C
    • COMMAND TableDeleteRow
      Description Delete a table row
      Shortcut = Alt+Shift+R
    • COMMAND TableDeleteTable
      Description Delete a table
      Shortcut = Alt+Ctrl+Shift+D
    • COMMAND TableToOrFromText
      Description Convert a table to text or text to a table
      Shortcut = Alt+V
    • COMMAND ViewHeader
      Description Display the header in page layout view
      Shortcut = Alt+H

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Microsoft terminology

Microsoft terminology

Note: The terminology in Microsoft 2007 and 2010 has changed, eg, a “menu” is now called a “tab”.  See some of the new terms below.

  1.  Tabs are designed to be task-oriented.  See the Home tab below.
  2.  Groups within each tab break a task into subtasks.  See the Font group below.
  3.  Command buttons in each group carry out a command or display a menu of commands.  See the Bold command button below.

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