Getting Rid of Paragraph Marks in Outlook

Updated April 17, 2017

The common misperception of paragraph formatting marks in Microsoft Office programs, such as Outlook, is that they will appear with the email of the recipient. The truth is the marks are only there for the writer to make sure his or her formatting is right. However, for someone not used to these marks, it can be a small distraction when writing a e-mail in Outlook. Getting rid of these paragraph marks only takes a few steps.

Opening Outlook and Getting to Know Paragraph Marks

Open Outlook to bring up the email interface. If you have an e-mail that has these marks, navigate to that e-mail and open it. A paragraph mark should look like a backward P. Although these marks are usually invisible, the program reveals them so you, as writer, can catch any mistakes you may have in the document. As stated before, these won't appear in the final document. This may happen because Outlook is using Word to format your e-mail.

Turning Off Paragraph Marks If Outlook is Using Word to Correct Outlook Emails

If Word is being used to format your Outlook messages, this could be the reason you are getting paragraph marks. Fortunately, correcting this takes a few seconds. First, click "Tools," then "Options" and finally "Mail Format." Uncheck "Use Microsoft Word to edit Email Messages." You will only format your messages within Outlook. Turning off Word can eliminate some of Word's editing features, such as the drop-down menu, which can be very helpful when trying to put in bullet points, changing text and background colour, or other paragraph formatting that Word has.

Turning Off Paragraph Marks Without Having to Turn Off Word

If you can't live without Word's editing capabilities, there is another way to erase these marks from your e-mail. If you have Outlook 2003, go to the "Standard" toolbar and click "Show/Hide" on the "Paragraph Formatting" symbol that looks like a backwards P. If it doesn't appear, head to the right of the "Standard" toolbar and click on the "Toolbar Options" drop-down menu and click "Show/Hide" on the "Paragraph Formatting" symbol. These are where the buttons that are less used appear.

If you are using Outlook 2007, turning off this option is different, but no more difficult. Click the "Format Text" tab within the "Message Window." Click "Show/Hide" on the "Paragraph Formatting" button within the "Paragraph" group.

Turning off Paragraph Marks Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Knowing keyboard shortcuts allows you to work faster, because it eliminates the need to hunt down buttons through a jungle of tabs and menus. The keyboard shortcut to turn off paragraph marks is "Ctrl" + "Shift" + "" for PCs and "Cmd" + "Shift" + "" for Macs. The asterisk button must be from the standard keyboard to work. Don't use the numeric keyboard for this shortcut.

Turning Off Paragraph Marks on Your Computer Forever

Assuming this is your very own computer and someone turned this function on, you can make sure these marks don't appear again within Microsoft Office. Click the "Office" button and navigate to "Word Options." Click "Display," and clear all the checked boxes for the formatting marks under "Always Show These Formatting Marks on the Screen."

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About the Author

As a writer and designer, Alvaro Roque's professional experience covers many interests. His articles have been featured in L.A.'s "Gallery Row Newspaper" and online at and His design experience ranges from creating an animated DVD intro to designing websites. He received his English degree from California State University, Northridge.