Word: Show Bookmarks

March 3, 2011

I can’t believe I haven’t written a separate blog post on how to show bookmarks in Microsoft Word before now! Surprisingly,  showing bookmarks is NOT part of showing all formatting marks or fields — it’s a separate setting.

Here’s how to show bookmarked text in your Word document (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/word-cross-reference-goes-onto-next-page/ for screen shots):

  • 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.
  • Word 2010: File > Options then Advanced on the left. Scroll down to the Show document content section, and select the Show bookmarks check box.

And here’s what bookmarked text looks like when Show Bookmarks is turned on — the bookmarked selection is surrounded by light gray square brackets:

Bookmarked text is surrounded by gray square brackets

[Links last checked February 2011]


  1. […] newsletter/blog of CyberText Consulting – technical communication specialists « Word: Show Bookmarks Word: Adding a TOC for a section March 4, […]

  2. How do I know which bookmark I am looking at?

  3. Hi Marc

    Click inside a bookmarked piece of text, then go to the Insert tab > Bookmark (in Word 2007). You’re not inserting a bookmark, despite what you clicked!

    When the Bookmarks window opens, the bookmark you’re currently in is highlighted. You can then see its name, or delete it if you no longer need it.

    See this blog post for more information: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/word-deleting-a-bookmark/


  4. Hi Rhonda
    A tricky one – any ideas?
    I have bookmarked some text that is formatted as bold and centered. When I cross-reference that bookmark, the cross-reference appears bold and centered.
    Is there a way for the cross-reference to appear say, left-aligned and not bold, but with the bookmark remaining bold and centered?

  5. Hi Deb

    Try this: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/word-remove-formatting-from-cross-references/

    After setting this, select the cross-referenced bookmark text and apply whatever formatting you want to it. Leave the original bookmark alone. You should have it all sorted!


  6. Thank you Rhonda. Not only does your response work really well but you answered at lightning-fast speed.

  7. Microsoft needs a LARGE lesson in document preparation for its software.
    Nothing is logical, evident, or user friendly, and changes each interation.

    Show bookmarks is a great example: Who, except an MS engineer, would look for show bookmarks by clicking on INSERT (Word2010), then on
    BOOKMARK in the dropdown.

    Most of us take that operation literally: i.e., INSERT A BOOKMARK.

  8. Do you know how to have the boomarks stay on instead of having to go in and reveal them each time (Word 2007). I have some templates and I would like the bookmarks to show because I do not want people overwriting the bookmarks. Any help would be appreciated.

  9. Hi Carolyn

    Try this macro: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/word-macro-to-show-all-formatting-on-opening-a-document/

    It also turns on other formatting marks.


  10. Thank you for explaining how to turn off these grey brackets, Rhonda.

    This has been driving me mad and I finally decided to find out why this was occurring.

    Your blog is the only one I managed to find that explained this easily and fixed my issue!


  11. How do i insert bookmarks in Microsoft Word 2010 starter, please help i only see the Hyperlink option, even though i checked the show boomark option.
    Good Evening

  12. Hi Eduardo

    I don’t know what Word 2010 Starter is, so I can only tell you how to do it in the Word 2010 version I’m using. Note: the methods below refer to Word 2007 — Word 2010 uses the same steps.

    You insert a bookmarks from the Insert tab — see here for how: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/word-repeating-text-within-a-document/

    And you delete one from the Insert tab too: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/word-deleting-a-bookmark/

    There are rules about bookmark names too: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/word-bookmark-names/


  13. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing great stuff.
    I am preparing one TOC.
    There are 8 level TOC.
    CHAPTER 1: abc
    Part A: wrer
    1 Thanks taylor for the
    1.1 Opportunity to participate in the rfp process
    1.2 safasdf
    1.2.1 Data management
    A We understand that
    i Taylor is looking for a partner
    a Who can help differentiate in the

    for first Chapter it is coming correctly but when I am going for next Chapter that time my third level numbering coming as 1, 1.1, I need that as 2, 2.1, can u pls help me out on this. Thanks in Advance.

  14. Hi Sagar

    First, I’d question why you need an 8-level TOC, when from your example, at least the last three levels are body text that you wouldn’t want reported in a TOC.

    Secondly, to get an automated TOC like this, you need to use a combination of outline numbering for headings (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/word-2007-outline-numbering/ and https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/word-2007-taming-multilevel-list-numbering/, where you will substitute Heading 1, 2, 3 for List Number 1, 2, 3 styles), AND an automated TOC (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/word-2007-create-an-automatic-table-of-contents/).

    You’ve asked this question in a post about Bookmarks, but Bookmarks are not used for creating a TOC like the one you want.


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