Problems With Letters Disappearing in Microsoft Word

By Contributor

Updated September 09, 2022

Problems With Letters Disappearing in Microsoft Word
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Letters can seem to disappear in Word if you're typing in overtype mode or have a borderless text box covering text. Words can also disappear if you have field codes in a document, or if text color matches the background color of your document. Each of these problems has a solution for restoring text visibility.

Disable Overtype in Word

Typing in overtype mode can cause the letters in your Word documents to disappear, according to Microsoft. If you're wondering why "when I type it deletes letters," it's because in this mode, anything you type replaces text instead of inserting new text. Word offers the option of disabling overtype mode through its "Options" dialog box.

Click the "File" menu, then click "Options" to open that dialog. Click the "Advanced" tab, then click the "Use Overtype" check box under the "Editing" heading to clear that check box. Click "OK" to dismiss the dialog box and resume typing without interference from overtype mode.

Check for a Borderless Text Box

If a borderless shape or text box is covering your text, words in your documents will seem to disappear. To observe this effect, click the "Insert" tab, then click the "Text Box" command and drag on the screen to create a text box. Right-click the text box, then click "Format." Click the white color from the "Color" drop-down box under the Line heading, then click "OK" to close the dialog box.

The text box effectively disappears, but prevents any text under the box from displaying. To determine if this is the reason for your text disappearing, enter the VBA programming environment, then paste the following program into the central window. Press "F5" to run the program, which places a black dashed border around all text boxes.

Sub showTextboxes() Dim tbox, i For i = 1 To ActiveDocument.Shapes.Count Set tbox = ActiveDocument.Shapes(i) If tbox.Type = msoTextBox Then With tbox.Line .DashStyle = msoLineDash .ForeColor.RGB = RGB(0, 0, 0) End With End If Next i End Sub

Hide Field Codes

OfficeToolTips explains that letters in a table of contents or index can disappear if you press "Alt" and "F9" simultaneously. This keystroke tells Word to reveal or hide field codes, which are dynamic text elements that add content to your documents, such as tables of contents and indexes. When you press the keystroke just mentioned, Word makes all field codes display their true appearance, which consists of curly braces enclosing cryptic text, like "XE" for index entries.

This appearance prevents the display of the text that the field code generates, such as an index. To restore your hidden text, press "Alt" and "F9" simultaneously once again to flip the field codes back to their other display mode.

Check Your Text Color

Letters can disappear if their color matches the background color, which is usually white. To observe this problem, click the "A" icon on Word's Home tab, then click the white color from the palette that appears. Anything you type results in new content for the document, but you won't see that content until you restore its default color of black.

To restore black text, double-click the hidden text, then press "Control" and "Space" simultaneously. This action tells Word to restore text to the default formatting for the style of that text. This could be the issue if you have problems such as missing words when typing, but not that typing deletes the next letter (which is a symptom of overwrite mode).