Show/Hide Paragraph Codes in Outlook 2007

Another one-hit-wonder just for the search engines and people who happen to have the same problem as I did.


Somehow I’d managed to turn on “reveal codes” or “show paragraph marks” or whatever it’s called in Outlook 2007 (it’s hard to describe a feature that you turned on accidentally, but see the image above). Word calls it “Show Hide P” (“P” being the backwards “P” paragraph symbol that I can’t copy/paste from anything, nor can I find it in the symbols font), and it can be toggled off/on by using CNTRL+*….at least that’s what Word 2007 says, yet that keyboard shortcut didn’t work for me in Outlook 2007.

I couldn’t figure out how to turn this feature off – I’d searched online, the bundled help, and every single menu and options screen I could possibly think of. I should add that I toggled it off/on Word 2007 but that has no impact in Outlook 2007, so the two settings aren’t linked.

I was pulling out my hair, but Sue Mosher (who’s been an MVP for even longer than I have I think) responded to my posting in the Outlook newsgroup with this single line:

Try Ctrl+Shift+8 (which is what Ctrl+* really means).

And that did it. I really have no idea why Ctrl+* doesn’t really mean press the control key and the asterisk key (*) at the same time, but the solution works.

  • Thanks for this tip, Jason! It works with Ctrl+Shift+8 in Word 2007, Ctrl+* does not on Finnish/Swedish keyboard. (Shift+8 means “(” on my keyboard)

  • PA

    Thank you! I've been living with those annoying formatting symbols for a few months now!!

  • Guest

    Good man, thanks!!

  • Guest

    Had the same problem, very frustrating. Until I found your post. Thank you!

  • Randy

    Thanks, exactly what I needed.

  • Sandy

    More thanks… ;’))

  • I found that if you create a new email, then click on Office Button (top left corner of email), then go to the very bottom of popup, click on Editor Options, a new window will open.
    Just select “Display” and you will be able to Hide or Show various formating marks.

    Hope this helps.

  • Juan

    Awesome thanks for the help

  • Kandersen

    Thank you so much!!!! Fortunately your blog was the second place I looked after the Microsoft solution that you mentioned first. Problem solved!!!

  • Sarinailyas

    you’re a lifesaver. Thank you!!!!

  • Mic

    Thank you. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Htripp

    Fab u lous !!!!   Couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get rid of them!  Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Douglas A Ross

    Thanks, it worked just fine.

  • Cmbarrett

    I did THE SAME THING! Thank you SOOO muchfor posting this solution!

  • Elyce

    OMG. Thank you. I was going CRAAAAZZZYYY!

  • Bladept2nd

    U ROCK!

  • DC

    wow – thank you. I was going crazy, and like you, turned it on accidentally. Had no idea what to call the paragraph icons or space icons…now I know. THANK YOU!

  • Kirk

    Holy ****

    I was going crazy and this is the only thing that helped. I can not tell you how much this was a life saver!!!!

  • KAte

    Bless you!

  • Karen Strand Arteaga

    Thank you!  I too managed to turn this on accidentally and had no idea how to turn it off.  I appreciate your post. 

    Sacramento, CA


    Bless your soul for this…I think i was about to go BLIND!!!!

  • Donald Tepper

    The Control+Shift+8 didn’t work for me. But Gil’s suggestion–Office Button, Editor Options–worked perfectly. Thanks. (BTW: Mine got turned on when I copied and pasted some info from a website to put into an e-mail.)

  • Biamed4bizz

    Gill, thank you very much it really works!

  • Amy

    This solution was a life saver — thank you!!!!  I could have never figured it out on my own.  

  • Vonnie


  • Disqus generic email templateThanks!

  • cmayhew

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I too do not know how I did it but your solution worked! 

  • Rjkelly

    Thanks!  I was pulling my hair out (if I had any).

  • Sbowen

    THANK YOU!  I finally find a source that answers my question.

  • Jamiemy

    awesome thanks – you rock

  • Kjjones

    Thank you!  And bless you…

  • Jer

    thank you!!

  • Latinaloca805

    OMG I spent all morning going through everything trying to get this off of my BOSS email. Thanks a bunch, I can enjoy the other half of my Saturday 🙂

  • Todd Montgomery

    Wow! That was easy.