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Microsoft Word/changing default for "show/don't show formatting changes" in Word


Hi Suzanne,
I would like to change the default setting for the show/don't show formatting changes so that the formatting changes do not show when the document is opened.
Is there an easy way to do this?

Although it's not recommended, you can disable the setting to "Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving." You don't say what version of Word you have, but here's where to find it:

Word 2003: Tools | Options | Security
Word 2007: Office Button | Word Options | Trust Center | Trust Center Settings | Privacy Options
Word 2010/2013: File | Options | Trust Center | Trust Center Settings | Privacy Options

Some users report that disabling this option doesn't entirely do the trick. In any case, it is a risky choice if the document is one that will be sent to others; do at least make sure you enable the setting (in the same location) to "Warn before printing, saving, or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments." If you want to send a copy without markup, make a copy and accept all changes and delete all comments; don't count on the initial display to keep the recipient from viewing the markup.

If you have Word 2013, the default display is Simple Markup, which is minimally intrusive (change bars only).

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This topic answers questions related to Microsoft Word stand-alone or Microsoft Office Word including Word 2003, Word 2007, Office 2000, and Office XP. You can get Word help on formatting text, tables, tabs, fonts, styles, general Word layouts, bullets, headings, and outlines, using templates, toolbar modifications, and using Track Changes. You may also find tips on linking Word and Excel embedded objects including charts. This site does not provide a general Word tutorial nor the basics of using a word processor. It provides specific answers to using Microsoft Word only. If you do not see your Word question answered in this area then please ask a Word question here

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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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