Word: Deleting a bookmark

October 20, 2009

Surprisingly, you delete a Word bookmark from the Insert menu, which I guess shouldn’t be so surprising coming from a company that gets you to click Start to shutdown your computer! ;-)

Before you delete a bookmark, you need to know if you have any in your document and if they serve a purpose (e.g. a marker for an Appendix could be a legitimate bookmark).

Viewing bookmarks

A quick and easy way to see bookmarks is to turn on the visual indicators for them:

  • Word 2003: Tools > Options > View tab, Show group, Bookmarks check box.
  • Word 2007: Office button Office button,  click Word Options then Advanced on the left. Scroll down to the Show document content section, and select the Show bookmarks check box.

(See this post for pictures of these Options windows)

Once you’ve turned on the bookmark indicators, you can identify any bookmarks in your document by the gray square brackets.

Bookmarked text is surrounded by gray square brackets

Bookmarked text is surrounded by gray square brackets

So, how do these bookmarks get there when you know you haven’t added them? Well, sometimes they seem come in when you copy/paste from another document. I don’t know how or why — I just know I’ve seen them appear under those circumstances when I’ve received a Word document that’s been written and revised by multiple authors.

Deleting unwanted bookmarks

Once you’ve found bookmarked text, you need to check if has a legitimate purpose being there and delete it if it doesn’t.

  1. Click anywhere within the bookmarked text.
  2. Open the Bookmark dialog box:
    • Word 2003: Select Insert > Bookmark from the menu.
    • Word 2007: Go to the Insert tab > Links group, then select Bookmark.
  3. Look at what’s on the automatically selected line. If it has OLE_LINK followed by a number, and the text you clicked in is just text, not an object, then you can delete the bookmark without upsetting anything in your document.
  4. Click Delete. The selected OLE_LINK line is removed from the list.
  5. Click Close.
Bookmark dialog box

Bookmark dialog box

“But I’ve still got gray brackets around the text!”

Often, the bookmark doesn’t go on the first deletion. I think this is because bookmarks have an opening and closing bracket and both must be removed.

So click in the text again (if you’re not already there), then re-open the Bookmark dialog box. The correct line for the other ‘end’ of the bookmark will be selected automatically, so you don’t need to try to figure out which one it is. Click Delete then Close. The gray brackets for that bookmark should now be gone for good.

No bookmarks around the text!

No bookmarks around the text!

Alternative method

If you notice there are lots of OLE_LINK items in the Bookmark dialog box, you can check and delete them directly from that box.

Here’s how:

  1. Select any OLE_LINK item (or other unrecognizable item) listed in the Bookmark dialog box.
  2. Click Go To. You get taken to the place in the document where the bookmark is located and the bookmarked text/object will be selected. It may be a word or a phrase, or an entire section of the document, depending upon how the bookmark was created.
  3. Make sure you’re OK with deleting the bookmarks for the selection, then click Delete. If you’re not sure, then leave them there.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for all other unrecognizable bookmarks.

Note: You can only delete one bookmark at a time.


  1. […] Show bookmarks […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: