Word: Turn off Reading Layout view

April 26, 2008

If you’ve been emailed a Word document as an attachment and open it in Word 2003 or Word 2007, it displays in the new Reading Layout view by default. While this is OK for some documents, I generally find it annoying (as do others I work with—they keep asking me how to turn it off!).

An extra click to close the Reading Layout view is required to get back to the usual Word view. So, if you also find this annoying, here’s how to turn off this Reading Layout view default:

  • Word 2003: From the menu, select Tools > Options, select the General tab, and then clear the Allow starting in Reading Layout check box.
  • Word 2007: Click the large Microsoft Office button in the top left corner, click the Word Options button, select Popular, then clear the Open e-mail attachments in Full Screen Reading view check box.

It’s that easy!

[This article was first published in the September 2004 CyberText newsletter; steps checked and updated to incorporate Word 2007, 21 August 2008]


  1. THANK YOU!!! that was an easy fix to something so annoying!

  2. Thank You. Microsoft at it’s worst.

  3. Unfortunately, the meaning of this setting has changed between Office 2003 and Office 2007.

    In Office 2003, the nearest equivalent setting is “Allow Starting in Reading Layout”, which meant “two pages side by side”.

    In Office 2007, the setting discussed above is “Open e-mail attachments in Full Screen Reading Layout”, where the emphasis is more on enabling Full Screen view than on showing two pages side by side.

    On a 23″ wide screen monitor, the setting shown above does not eliminate “two pages side by side” behavior.

    Interestingly (frustratingly?), if I switch to the “View” tab in the ribbon, NONE of the ZOOM items are high-lighted. When I click on “two pages” the view changes slightly, fitting both pages entirely in the workspace.

    By the way, I use “Print Layout”. I can imagine that having an effect, but bottom line, I still don’t want to see two pages side by side when I open a file.

  4. Thank you so much for the information about how to switch off this annoying feature in Word 2007.
    I wasted 30 minutes on MS help with no success.

  5. As usual, if 95% of the population likes something, I hate it, and vice versa. Reading layout was the only way you could read a document with the window sized much narrower than the page. But because of people’s annoyance with it, MS replaced it with Full Screen Reading Layout View. Bring back Reading Layout View NOT full screen!

  6. Seriously helped – Its simple – Thanks

  7. Thanks!
    This has bothered me for years. Such a simple solution and I had asked numerous IT people!

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