How to hide content on-screen in Word, but still print it

You don't have to work hard to print content you can't see on-screen in Microsoft Word--simply reset this default option.

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Most content is meant for viewing on-screen and in print, but not always. For instance, you might want to print a specific header without viewing it on-screen. Fortunately, the solution is easy—apply a font-level format and enable a document setting. 

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I'll show you how to hide text in a document's header and then use a document setting to print it--even though it isn't visible in the on-screen document. This technique works with all hidden content. 

I'm using Office 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but the technique will work in older versions. You can work with your own document or download the demonstration .docx or .doc files. The browser edition will print existing headers and footers, but you can't alter them or view them on-screen.

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How to insert a header in Word

If you know how to insert a header in Word, you can skip this section.
Adding headers to a Word document can be a complex task, but for now, you only need to insert simple text. To do so, double-click the document at the top margin—that top inch or so of white space—to open the header area in edit mode. If you don't see the header white space, you may have disabled it inadvertently. If you think that's the case, read the Missing White Space section in Office Q&A: Placeholder formats and disappearing white space.

With the header area in edit mode, type the word Confidential and press Enter to wrap to the next line. Click Date & Time in the Insert group and then click anywhere in the document area (outside the header area) to close the header. At this point, both header lines are visible on-screen and will print. The next step is to hide the content you don't want to display on-screen. 

How to use the  Hidden format in Word

You can add text and hide it in any Word document. You might want to hide confidential information temporarily or even use one document to fulfill two or more roles. You can hide text and unhide it manually to determine what appears on-screen and in print. It's important to note that hiding text affects the document's layout and page flow.

In this case, we won't use the format to hide and unhide content as needed; instead, we'll hide part of the header from online viewing and leave it that way. To illustrate, we'll apply the Hidden format to the word Confidential in the demonstration document's header (Figure A) as follows:

  1. Double-click inside the header (or footer) to open it in edit mode.

  2. Select the text you want to hide; in this case, select the word Confidential.

  3. Right-click the selected text and choose Font from the resulting submenu.

  4. In the Effects section of the resulting dialog, check Hidden, and then click OK.

Figure A

wordhideheader-a.jpg

  Hide the word Confidential in the header.

When you return to the document (click anywhere outside the header area), the word Confidential will no longer be visible (Figure B). If you printed the document right now, Word would not print the word Confidential, but it would print the date (which isn't hidden). Let's move on to see how to print hidden text.

Figure B

wordhideheader-b.jpg

Confidential is hidden, but the header still displays the date. 

How to print hidden text in Word

Printing hidden text isn't the mystery you might suppose: Word has a setting for it. To print hidden text in the current document, follow these steps.

  1. Click the File menu and choose Options. In the resulting pane, click Display in the left pane.

  2. In the Printing Options section, check Print Hidden Text (Figure C) and click OK.

Figure C

wordhideheader-c.jpg

  Enable Word to print hidden text.

When you return to Word, click the File menu and choose Print. As you can see in Figure D, the header is visible in Print Preview even though it isn't visible in the document. When printing hidden text this way, Word will print all hidden text, not only the hidden header. 

Figure D

wordhideheader-d.jpg

  The hidden header will print.

Keep in mind that any hidden text that you don't want others to ever see is vulnerable--the Hidden format isn't a form of protection, so don't use it that way. If you have a clever trick involving hidden text, please share it in the comments section below.

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