Microsoft Word/Removing hard returns


QUESTION: Hi, Nancy,

Glad to know you are out there. I need to submit a manuscript to a publisher, but they have asked me to remove all hard returns. I'm not sure where they might be throughout my 269 pages. I'm not even sure what they are, except possibly when I hit "enter" to start a new paragraph. Or when I'm obligated to do so when typing quotes that don't extend to the end of the line, so the the text wraps automatically. I'm sorry if you've answered this before, but I started to scan the previous questions and became a little snow blind trying to view all of them. Can you help me? Thanks. I tried one fellow's solution on the Web, but ended up with a wall of text. Luckily, I did't select "save changes."

ANSWER: Hello - so, I am guessing that you really do not want to get rid of paragraphs just duplicate hard returns.  Make a backup copy of your document by saving it with a different name.

A paragraph (in Microsoft terms) is created when you hit the enter key.  So in essence you are creating a paragraph when you hit return after , let us say typing the date.

First, turn on the symbols within your document.  There is an icon on the toolbar but you can also use the key combination CTRL+Shift+8.  You can now see the paragraph/return symbols.

So, now you want to remove them all except for the ones that are creating your necessary returns and paragraphs.

We have determined that you need some returns but you do not need doubles.  
Here is what I do.

I do a search and replace for all double returns by ...  A double return is when you hit the return key to create a paragraph and then you hit it again to create a space between paragraphs.  The idea is you only use one return and then increase paragraph spacing by using the Paragraph window.

CTRL+H  - in the find what field you type ^p (lowercase p) in the replace with what field you type === (it really does not matter what you use here but the likelihood is you do not have 3 dashes within your document.  Do a Replace All.

Now - do another search and replace from the top of the document by going CTRL+Home
CTRL+H - in the find what field type those same three dashes ===
Place with: ^p  - you are replacing every instance of what originally was multiple hard returns with one that you do need to create the paragraphs within your document.

I hope I was clear and I am happy to clarify if you need me to.

I am here on the snowy east coast so didn't see this until this morning - good luck.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi, Nancy,

I tried to follow your instructions, and in doing so I ended up with no spaces between my paragraphs, but with a hard return (musical note symbol) at the end of each line of text. In other words, just the symbol appears with no space between paragraphs. This result seems to make some sense to me. In the meantime, I contacted my publisher and they said, "To remove a hard return, place the cursor in front of the hard return (musical symbol) and hit the delete key one time."

I tried that and ended up with the text all running together into one long, run-on sentence. That seems crazy. But they didn't mention to me that this would happen. It looks like the procedure you suggested makes more sense, but I'm just not certain. I'm sorry to be a pain, but this little (big) problem has me pulling my hair out. Can you help further? Should I contact them again and explain what happened with your suggestions, and further ask if I am supposed to see this musical symbol - the ones they said should be "all" removed, after all? I couldn't be more confused, but I'm trying my best to understand. Thank you.

If all this isn't confusing enough, I now (with your procedure) have two arrows in front of my very first sentence, and sometimes a dot or two dots in front of some of the musical note symbols. Egad! I hope you can put up with me, and if I can't figure it out on my own, do you think going to a "live body" service might help? You know, the kind of computer expert that I can contact locally. I'm in California. I suppose I could put it on an external drive (USB port) and take it to someone.

ANSWER: Russ, yes when you follow the directions i gave you , there will not be a space between the paragraphs unless you have defined it.

Select all your text - Ctrl+A (Select All )

On the Home TAB > Paragraph Group >
   there is a tiny arrow in the lower right hand corner which when clicked on will display the Paragraph Settings window.

This is where you define the spacing between your paragraphs without adding an additional hard return.  The default is usually 6 but can be 10 (after).

They are correct you can sit there and manually delete the hard returns and you will end up with a big blob of text.  Not sure why anyone would do that.  Any time you are doing something more than once or twice there is a better way to do it.

Now that you have displayed the "reveal codes" you are seeing the spaces and Tabs keystrokes.

The dots are spaces and you can just delete using the delete or the backspace keystroke.

The little arrows are Tab symbols these can be removed using the search and replace as well.

To do this you would do a CTRL+H
In the find what field you type ^t
Replace with nothing , leave the field blank.

This will remove all tabs in all of your document so if you have deliberately inserted TABS you would not want to use this.  In this case you would delete them individually using the delete or backspace keystroke.

It is unfortunate that they are asking you to do something without appropriate support.  Many consider themselves knowledgeable using Word without really having a clue of all the intrinsic in using the program.

In the end this should take 5 or 10 minutes to format your document, if I understand correctly what you are trying to do.

All the bet.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: OK, I'm not exactly sure what you meant by "reveal" codes, but what I did was go to the paragraph dialogue box and under "spacing" I selected 6pt. "before" and 6 pt. "after" and hit OK. There were no default numbers in any of the boxes that I could have selected. All of them were blank.

So, what I now have is a proper spacing (if 6pt. was the correct selection for both "before" and "after") between paragraphs, with the hard return (musical symbols) STILL showing up at the end of each paragraph. I assume it (they) should still be there. The arrows at the front of the first sentence disappeared, without me having to do anything in the search and replace menu. You said I might have to do that, but, as I said, they disappeared.

Finally: In front of ONLY some of the musical symbols there remains a dot. Only some, and not in all paragraphs. If I understand you, I can simply delete these occasional dots by simply scrolling though the entire document and finding them. Yes?

So, at that point in the process, if I followed you correctly, is the job complete?

Good morning - yes it appears your document is indeed formatted correctly.

Yes, you do need a Paragraph symbol (musical note) at the end of each paragraph, it is what creates the paragraph.

I mentioned default because I happen to know that is what it was in older versions of Word and the newer versions, on a new blank document will use 10.  Not relevant, don't worry about it.

Yes, the dots before each paragraph symbol are simply spaces and can easily be deleted.

Show/Hide = Reveal Codes (Reveal Codes is a WordPerfect term)which is sometimes used to explain show symbols in Word.

I would turn off the symbols before submitting.

I hope this one is on tract and accepted.  Good luck.

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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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Nancy C. Janyszeski


Microsoft Office 97 to 2010. Certified as a MOUS Authorized Instructor and MOUS Master Certified. Sr. Instructional Designer for International IT Certification for Activ, the only UK-based provider of approved training and testing software for ECDL Foundation and British Computer Society Qualifications


Vocational School Instructor in the Microsoft Office Suite . I am Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS) Master Certified and was certified as a MOUS Authorized Instructor. ICDL certified, Microsoft Office 2010. Sr Instructional Designer for International IT Certification and test designer for Skills Advantage,

MOUS Master Certified, was Certified as a MOUS Authorized Instructor, ICDL certified, Microsoft Office 2010.

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