Deleting Dotted Lines in Word

I’ve finally figured out the most maddening problem in Microsoft Word. I never could get rid of these lines of small squares that reached from margin to margin.

Nothing would dent them. I couldn’t highlight them, delete them, or overwrite them. The only solution was to erase the whole passage that contained them, and type from scratch. Sometimes that failed. They spread like rabbits.

Here’s the secret. That line is the bottom border on the paragraph immediately above. So you have to attack it in that paragraph. Here’s how.


Highlight the whole paragraph before the line, even if it’s just one carriage return. Click FORMAT, then BORDERS AND SHADING, then BORDERS (1). Under APPLY TO, click PARAGRAPH (2). Under SETTINGS (3), look at the bottom item: CUSTOM (4). That’s the baddie. See that little line of four dots? You have to kill that. Click NONE (5) at the top of that column, then OK (6). Voila, the line is gone, adios.

Maybe it’s not. It’s still there, but moved up one line. The fiends at Microsoft designed in a defense against us. If there’s more than one dotted line, they stack on top of one another, but you only see one. So you have to repeat the whole process until they’re all gone. Last night, I rooted out seven of them masquerading as one.

By the way, if you want to create that line, type a carriage return, three asterisks, and a carriage return.

Different versions of Word may do this in different ways, but maybe you can figure out how to make the proper changes. I use Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac.

[Do you know different ways to get rid of these little monsters?]

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Comments (305)  

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  1. This is just another reason I gave up Word. It’s slow, it crashes, and it’s overloaded with features no writer needs.

    For a basic, no frills word processor on the Mac I use “Bean.” It’s free.

    These days, I started doing my drafting in WriteRoom, which gives me a distraction-free, full-screen interface.

    They can noth produce “.doc” format, although neither will do “.docx.”

  2. Thanks, Frolic.
    Word is wonderful except when it’s awful. It has a mind of its own, esp. on the Mac. Those dotted lines have driven me nuts for years. And docx is its own nightmare.

  3. This is fabulous advice and it works. After spending hours trying to find a way to rid myself of that awful dotted line, I came across Mr. Fry’s advice. Thank you so much.

    Also, if you don’t want to have to repeat the steps over and over, if you do a select all under the edit function and then follow Mr. Fry’s steps, it seems to banish the dotted lines altogether.

    I’ve bookmarked your site. Great writing advice!

  4. Thanks, Carole. Those dotted lines drove me nuts.

  5. Here is another way.
    Sounds like they may be paragraph borders. Try this:

    1. On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click the ¶ button to display paragraph marks (¶s).
    2. Select the paragraph mark above the line you want to delete.
    3. In the Paragraph section of the Home Tab, click the Borders and Shading list box button and select No Border.

  6. You just saved my document again. I have fought this and fought this. Typically I just paste the document into a text file so the formatting is lost. Then I can at least salvage the text.

    Thanks once again.

  7. Thanks, Melissa and Doug. This solves the deepest and most maddening mystery of Word.

  8. Thank you! I’m so glad Google found you for me 🙂

  9. Thanks – I was ready to scream – borders you say – but why? why?

  10. Oh my gosh, you cannot imagine how many hours I have spent trying to remove those dashed lines, and instead, they kept multiplying!

    After trying Dr. Fry’s suggestion (and repeating it many times) I came to the conclusion that either it was not working for me, or I must have hundreds of those hidden lines. I was glad to see the suggestion by Carole Moore above about trying “select all” and then proceeding as suggested by Dr. Fry and they disappeared!

    You guys are geniuses! Thank you both so much for sharing these wonderful secrets with those of us who might otherwise spend the rest of our lives imprisoned by these grids.

  11. Thanks, Lynette.
    They drove me out of my mind. That’s why I wrote that post. Don

  12. Thanks so much. I was afraid I was going to have to resort to some old-school cut, paste and photo copy nonsense.

  13. Likewise, this has solved a problem that has driven me demented for years. In Word 2010, which I’ve only just acquired and am not finding particularly user friendly, it’s under Page Layout / Borders.

    Eureka! Thank you so much Don Fry.

  14. Thanks, Patsy. You’ve joined the ranks of the dotted-line support group.

  15. You just saved me a ton of frustration. I am forever in your debt 🙂

  16. Thanks, Ken.
    Getting rid of those dots is like lifting cannon balls off your neck.

  17. Hello.
    This is still not working for me. I’ve been trying to separate sections of a text with a centered 3 asterisks–looked nice. Suddenly I have dotted lines between every paragraph. Yes, I clicked page break to see if I could undo that way. Nothing you’ve suggested has worked. Please help.


  18. I found another way to beat this thing. You can right click over the text, go to Styles, then Clear Format. Donna

  19. Thanks, Donna. It’s amazing how many ways there are to undo Word mess. I wish Microsoft would solve the problem.

  20. You have saved me from rewriting an entire chapter of my dissertation because I couldn’t get rid of those lines. Thanks! Now, how do I eliminate page breaks that have appeared where I don’t want them. Word help has not worked!

  21. Hi Doreen. I tried two other things that helped with page breaks that seemed to pop up too early. Under HOME, there is an icon that looks like an Aa within a box with an eraser under it. That will clear all your formatting from the section, but you have to do over what you want to keep. OR– under REVIEW, click Track Changes or Final Show Markup. You can click on each format box that appears on the right, and then click Reject Change. If you can find the one where you hit a page break (somehow) it will be gone, I played with this for a long time, but that helped. I hope your dissertation is fun. I wrote mine many years ago. Hang in there. Donna

  22. Dear all;
    This is the most commented-upon blog post in my whole writing life. I never cease to be amazed at how helpful the comment function can become. Thanks to all of you. Don

  23. Thanks so much for this blog! Saved my document (dissertation no less) I entered ***** (five stars) then hit enter and a dotted line appeared, and I couldnt work out for the life of me what it was. Thanks for pointing out it was a border – What a stupid idea on behalf of the designers of word…

  24. Thanks, Ben. Dissertations are hard enough to write without sabotage from Microsoft. Don

  25. Thanks SO much Don this was EXTREMELY helpful those lines are so pesky! Now I can deal with them easily! Thanks again!

  26. Thanks, Jessica. They drove me crazy.

  27. […] Then I remember… you can learn nearly anything about anything by looking on YouTube – and of course, by Googling it. Tried that first, and came across this page: […]

  28. Thank you, i was going dotty, until i read this, trying to format a manuscript.

  29. Thanks, Catherine. All writers are dotty, but Word makes us dottier. Don

  30. Thank you for your post! Helped me figure out a vexing issue. BTW in Word 2007, you find the border control in the Paragraph box of the Home tab, icon w/drop-down menu in the lower-right corner of the box. So simple once you realize what the heck is going on. Thanks again!

  31. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this advice! Having spent hours trying to remove these horrendous dotted lines from my manuscript I found your page on a desperate google search and followed your instructions. Thank you for saving my sanity!

  32. Thanks, Erin and Andrea;
    FIguring it out saved my sanity too. Don

  33. you are a god, you saved my life. thanks man!

  34. Thanks, Thekral.
    I had the problem myself yesterday, and fixed it.

  35. You’re the best!! Finally got rid of them… you made my day 🙂

  36. Thanks, Bernadette.
    Now if I could just get images centered in Kindle….

  37. Thanks….This was about to drive me crazy. Good thing I had the sense to google for an answer before I jumped off a cliff….Geesh!

  38. Thanks, Gerald. Google and this post have saved several lives. Don

  39. You’ve saved yet another document, Don, all this time after your original post. Thank you so much!


  41. Thanks, Julie and Cp. I’m thinking of having this post bronzed. Don

  42. Thanks! The gloom has lifted.

  43. Thanks, Ian.
    Every time I struggled with those dots, I was gloomy for a week. Don

  44. Thank you very much. Those dots were driving me crazy for too long. I really appreciate your time for helping people. Now I’m going to explore your site because I’m sure there must be many more interesting things to learn.

  45. Thanks, Rubens63. The blog has been reorganized into a book, Writing Your Way, available through Amazon in print and Kindle.


  46. Many thanks Mr. Fry, your advice was very helpful and it was
    interesting to see that I was not the only one having been struggling for a long time with those awful uninvited visitors within my text.

  47. Thanks, Pekka. This is the most maddening problem in Word. Don

  48. Thank you thank you thank you. So simple yet so elusive. I had always assumed it was some odd page break I could not get rid of.

  49. Thanks, Andre. Our assumptions defeat us with this one, since we assume that the problem is where it shows, not above it. Don

  50. Thank You!Thank You!Thank You!Thank You!Thank You! It truly was maddening!

    I’m guessing you are like me… started your “word processing” endeavors in that long lost Typewriterosaurus era, when we could only make that dashed line by repeating the “period” key.

    Maybe you also sometimes say “Ice Box” instead of “Refridgerator,” “Pocket Book,” instead of “Purse,” “Bathing Suit,” instead of “Swim Suit” and “Felt Tip,” instead of “Porous Point.” ; )

    Thanks again ~ you saved me a whole lot of retyping!


  51. Thanks, Victoria. I wrote my first piece in cuneiform, using a stylus made of reed. And nothing in the intervening years drove me as crazy as that line of dots. Don

  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Steve

  53. Thanks, Steve. This post is so popular that I ought to have it bronzed. Don

  54. OMG, thank you!

  55. Thanks, Caylor. This is everybody’s favorite post. Don

  56. I love you, Man!

  57. Thanks! This saved me a ton of time. BTW, in MS Word 2010, select the paragraph and then select “No Borders”.

  58. Thanks, Greg. This post’s comment section has become a collector for solving this problem in multiple versions of Word. Don

  59. Oh my goodness- those were making me crazy. Your suggestion saved me from endless cutting and pasting into a new document, with no guarantee they weren’t going to follow. Thank you.

  60. Thanks, Dani,
    I once decided they were some sort of infection, because they popped up even when you cut and pasted. Don

  61. Thank you and you made me laugh out loud with your descriptions!

  62. Thanks, Shani. It ain’t funny when you’re struggling with it. Don

  63. Oh THANK YOU. The line I had would not disappear and I could not copy and paste the 14 page paper to get rid of it. I tried for hours. Then, I googled and found your help!

  64. Thanks, Sabrina. I once had 14 lines at the same time! Don

  65. Thank you for this. Those lines are maddening. In fact I hadn’t expected to find a solution so quickly. God bless you!

  66. Thanks, Vlad. I get blessed every time I get feedback on this post. Don

  67. Thank you so much for this article! I was in despair over those dotted lines. You’ve saved me from having to re-type a 120k novel from scratch. I will be much more careful when I use asterisks in future …

  68. This helped me too. Thanks very much. It was the first thing I found in a Google search. Years ago I learned how to make that dotted line appear but not how to get rid of them.

    I mainly write stand-up and used the long dotted lines to separate different ideas. But sometimes I copy/paste the ideas into a new doc so I can basically write out an entire set and word chop it and otherwise customize the material for whatever gig I’m doing. That’s when I found I didn’t want the dotted lines because in that context they were annoying.

  69. Thanks – After a lot of frustration I hit on your advice. It worked like a charm, Even up to the point where I had to delete several lines that were stacked. Thanks again – I feel much better now!

  70. Thanks, Heloyse, Frying Pan 9, and Stoffel. I think I’ll get this post bronzed. Don

  71. I’m using a Windows 7 platform. Thanks to this posting, I figured out how to do it: go to the Home tab, select the Change Styles pull-down menu on the far right, and select Clear All. FANTASTIC. I’ve avoided having to figure this out for years. Thanks, everyone. Jean

  72. Thanks, Jean. This post has become a nexus for sharing ways to do this on different platforms. Don

  73. thanks, that was starting to annoy me

  74. Thanks, s. I got beyond annoyance to fury pretty fast. Don.

  75. Can’t thank you, enough! This was so mysterious and frustrating! Sure do appreciate your taking the time to document a solution. It was a little bit different on Windows 7, but you gave enough hints for me to figure it out!

  76. It’s like I have been cured of some horrible disease that no doctor can diagnose. I was going to give up on my PhD thesis until I found this site. Thanks!

  77. Thanks, Helen and Sharon.
    Helene, please add a comment on how to do this in Windows 7 so others can use it. And Sharon, good luck with your thesis.

  78. I knew I could not be the only person to encounter this virus-like feature. I spent at least an hour trying to figure it out, then decided to google it.

    thx Don

  79. Thanks, Paul.
    This “virus-like feature” has sickened thousands.

  80. Thank you so much for this!

  81. Another idea is to Select all, then right click, and under “styles” then “clear formatting”. This is super easy and takes you back to square one. If you have this dotted line issue, you very may have other weird things going on. This will generally take care of everything.

  82. Thanks, DAG.
    There are lots of ways to solve this. Don

  83. God bless you Don for giving me this solution!

  84. Thanks, Vidhya.
    Bless God for saving me from this awful feature.

  85. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly.
    I’m quite certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!

  86. Thank You Obi Wan!!! I wish I had found your blog before the hours I spent trying to get rid of that cursed thing. And just as you said, there were a bunch of them hiding in the document. I feel like a goblin slayer!

  87. Thanks, Dagne.
    This one blog post has slain more goblins than anything I ever wrote.

  88. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! That stupid line was driving me insane! You have saved me!

  89. This stupid function can be turned off: 1) go to the “Office” button (i.e. that red/blue/orange/green thing, often in the top left of the screen); 2) Choose “Word Options”; 3) Choose “Proofing”; 4) Choose “AutoCorrect Options”; 5) find the “AutoFormat As You Type” tag; 6) look for the “Apply As You Type” option; and 7) unclick the box that says “Border lines”. And hopefully, that will work. Different versions of Word might have this in different places, but “AutoFormat As You Type” is probably the thing to look for. Good luck.

  90. Dear readers of this blog,

    If you know a different way to undo this horrible feature, please comment on this blog. Thanks.

  91. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you,
    However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  92. You, good sir, just saved me BIG time at work. I’ll sign the document with my name and add you as a co-author.

  93. Thanks, Ben. It cost me hours before I figured it out.

  94. I just wanted to say thank you for this! Those pesky dotted lines had been bothering me in a document I received from a colleague. I appreciate the step-by-step guidance to get rid of them!

  95. Thanks, JLM.
    I kept creating them until I figured this out.

  96. Brilliant! Phew, thank you!:)

  97. Thanks, Colleen;
    You can see from the comments above how many people suffered from this feature.
    All best, Don

  98. You are amazing! I had a bunch of them cluttering up my dissertation, and now they’re gone! Made my day. Sincere thanks.

  99. Thanks, JBowers;
    If I had to deal with these pests when I wrote my dissertation, I might never have finished it.
    All best, Don

  100. Thank you so much! I would never have figured that out without this help. so annoying!

  101. Thanks, Melissa Ann.
    It took me ten years to figure it out.
    All best, Don

  102. OMG thank u!

  103. Wow!!!! Its amazing!! Thanks a lot. Good piece of information.It works!!

  104. Thanks, Sesha. It works in different ways in different versions of Word. Don

  105. That was brilliant Don! I’ve been trying to get rid of a line of those damn dashes for ages. I knew how I’d created them, by using a row of asterix to signify a scene change in my novel, but couldn’t get rid of it., but now I want to upload my ms to amazon and realised the bloody line of dashes was still there. Thankyou, it worked like a dream!

  106. Thanks, Geoff. I had the same problem as I uploaded to Amazon. All best, Don.

  107. Thanks, very helpful. I had the prooblem for along time until I found your explanations!

  108. Magic! Thank you.

  109. These things drove me NUTS! Thank you!

  110. Thanks, D. B. They drove me nuts, which is why I figured out the cure.
    All best, Dn

  111. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  112. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, Jo.

  113. Thank you sooooooooooooooooo much for that. Why the heck do they put them in the system anyway when we cannot control them? lol

  114. You have saved me from insanity. I thank you kindly. These kinds of features seem to suggest that Word is trying very hard to help me, but more often it hinders me.

  115. Thanks, Geraldine and Isobella. The problem is that Word tries to read your mind, and fails to tell you what to do if it gets it wrong.
    All best, Don.

  116. Nearly midnight, a crying toddler, low ink … and a very important deadline. And then… THE DOTS !
    Thank You for helping me solve this last one. The others, well: deep breathing!

  117. Thanks a million times!

  118. Thanks, Fonqua and Anthony;

    Maddening little monsters, weren’t they?
    All best, Don

  119. THANK YOU!
    I had a few dotted lines which I wanted to kill with my bare hands. At first it didn’t work for me and that’s when I realized I was on the wrong tab in borders and shades.
    Also, instead of “paragraph”, I chose “whole document” and got rid of all of them at once.

    You made me a happy woman.

  120. Thanks, Tat.
    You can see how many people responded to this post, but you have contributed a new technique.

  121. I am adding my thanks to all of these others. I am working on re-formatting a book draft for a friend, and it was filled with these. I could not figure out what to do until I came across this post and discovered the problem was in the “borders” feature. I am using a later version of Word on a PC, but thanks to you I was able to figure out what to do. Thanks so much!!! CM

  122. Thanks, CM.
    Would you like to describe your version and method here for other sufferers?
    All best, Don

  123. You are awesome! Thank you so much, I have had such a hard time figuring this page break out. I thought it was a page break I mean. Now I know it’s not.

  124. Thanks, Khart. I also tried to deal with it as a page break. Don

  125. You are the wind beneath my wings.

  126. Bless you! I’ve been fighting this for hours.

  127. Thanks, ssk and Debamundo,
    I fought it for months.

  128. Nuclear solution for MSWord 2010: Highlight offending paragraph with dotted line(s), right click –> Styles –> Clear Formatting …leaves behind only the sterilized text.

  129. Thank you, even our local IT guy didn’t know how to fix it.

  130. Thank you so much. Finally someone who knows what they are doing.

  131. Thanks, Spammy, canadian_eh, and Edwin. It took me a long time to figure this out. Don

  132. OMG!!! What a life saver!!! Microsoft wanted to charge me 149.00 in order to walk me through this! Thank you so much!!!!
    Peace to you and yours!!!!

  133. Thanks, jj.
    $149 to fix their flaw. Wow….

  134. I’m so glad I found this post. I had been going crazy for hours trying to make those dots go away. Thank you!

  135. Thanks, Suzanne.
    They drove me crazy for years. Don

  136. Hello there! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you
    know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this problem.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Appreciate it!

  137. One of the numerous bloody bugs that lost me hours in Word.
    I recently had a fight with Microsoft forum where official advocates
    of Office for Mac pretended the infamous bug with grammar check was non-existent. It’s there since 1998… never been fixed. It freezes Word in a book I was finishing. 48 hours of nightmare on a deadline before I remembered the bloody thing, thanks to a member of… Apple Communities. Ballmer should be hanged.

  138. Thanks, Johan.
    Word has been a disaster from the beginning.

  139. Great advice. However, I did all that and they were still there. Then I chose “white” as their color. At least I don;t see them anymore!

  140. Thanks, GES.
    I’m always amazed at the ingenuity it takes to defeat this feature. Don

  141. THANK YOU!!!!

  142. You’re welcome, Alec.

  143. Another “feature” which drives me mad in Word (PC or Mac).
    In Page Layout View, Word constantly repaginate. Time consuming and stupid.
    Solution ? Switch to Normal Layout and uncheck “Background repagination” under Word Prefs ? Not so. In Normal Layout, footnotes are not visible anymore.
    Well done, Ballmer & Co. !

  144. Thanks, Hels.

  145. Another infamous problem : suddenly impossible to drag and drop in Word.
    Only remedy : quit Word and reopen it.
    Is there another way, because i love it when I have 4 Word docs opened at different pages and have to close it up then reopen it up just to solve problems Mr Ballmer and his ilk never solved…

  146. Thanks, Hel. I have not experienced this problem, but reopening Word is my usual solution to most Word problems. Don

  147. That’s what I did. Oh, and next time I’ll have a problem with my car (say, a gearbox malfunction), I will cut engine and restart. Chance is, if my car is a Microsoft model, it will cure the problem.

  148. Thanks so much, life saver!

  149. You deserve a place in heaven for this…

  150. Thanks, Cal and Daniel.
    It’s the most maddening feature of Word.
    Best, Don

  151. thank you so much !!

  152. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this! That dotted line was making me INSANE!!!! Thanks for your help 🙂

  153. Thanks, Karen. You can see from the comments above that you were not alone. Don

  154. Thank you very much, everybody. Together, we make each other’s live easier and more enjoyable. Also, when we work together, there is nothing we cannot do, there is no problem we cannot solve. Thanks God for all of us.

  155. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I
    find this matter to be actually something that I think
    I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  156. I am amazed there is an answer for everything on the web. Thanks!
    I’m on deadline, sitting here trying to bind the demon of dots from my submission.

  157. You saved my day. Thanks

  158. You just saved me hours of frustration! thank you!

  159. THANK YOU

  160. Savior. Genius. Thank you!!!!

  161. You wonderful man! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I was losing my mind trying to get rid of it!

  162. THANK YOU I was cussing out loud so much the past 30 minutes trying to get rid of those damn lines! SO GLAD theyre gone now! THANKS!!!

  163. THANK YOU SO MUCH Melissa Marote (your comment left on 08/11/11)!!! You just saved me!

  164. another dissertation saved….thanks! I wanted to cry thinking I’d have to retype the whole thing….

  165. Thanks for the clear instructions! Your info really helped! Cheers! 🙂

  166. Thank you so much! I was desperate.

  167. Thank you so much; these lines were driving me crazy. I kept trying to figure out where they were coming from. Word help was useless. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’m so glad I found your site–for this certainly, and I will be returning.

  168. This information is worth everyone’s attention. Where can I find out more?

  169. Hi to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this website, and your views are pleasant for new users.

  170. A person essentially help to make severely posts I
    might state. This is the very first time I frequented
    your website page and so far? I surprised with the
    analysis you made to create this actual publish amazing. Magnificent job!

  171. Thanks so much for the tip about removing those annoying dotted lines!! I’ve been using Word for ages and had never run into that before.

  172. This was so helpful AND hilarious! I love the personification of those God-forsaken lines. I hate them with the fire of a thousand Hades, as I suspect you do. And how Word is conspiring against us. A riot. Thanks!

  173. Thank you!

  174. Those dratted dotted lines were driving me nuts! After spending 30 minutes fighting them one by one, I clicked on select all for the entire manuscript and followed your directions and they all disappeared! Wonderful!

  175. Thankyou, I was going mad!

  176. Thank you!!!

  177. If you put a space in front of the *** it will not create the lines

  178. Thank you. This instruction still works! I’m going to try using a space in front next time.

  179. Oh my god, finally.
    I repeated the process you described about 20 times before I realized that fucker had infested my entire word document. I had to highlight the whole text and do the same, and it was finally gone.
    Jesus christ, I don’t see why anybody would ever intentionally inflict those suckers upon themselves. They spread like the black plague until they’re everywhere!
    Your instructions were the only ones that worked, so thank you!

  180. Thanks everyone for saving my thesis, this monster spreads like wild fire. I am grateful!!!!!!

  181. In Word 2013, you go to Design and Page Borders. Choose Whole Document, and make sure you click on the Borders tab. I am just as grateful as all the other posters to find this easy solution to this annoying problem. I have been using Word for years, but Word 2013 has introduced some issues I have never had to deal with before.

  182. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  183. Oh Thank you so much!! That was bugging me!

  184. A massive BIG thank you 🙂

  185. Thank you so much.

  186. And I say along with everyone else, THANK YOU!!!

  187. Thank you so much, this was a life-saver!!!!!

  188. Today you helped one more person stay sane! Thank you!

  189. Those dashes are a very vexing problem. Another way to get rid of them is to use format painter on the paragraph preceding the paragraph with the dashes and thn apply format painter to the paragraph with the dashes.

  190. Great job, thanks Don. It would have taken me ages to figure this out.

  191. If you are using WORD 365 (newest version), it is a little harder to find. Ctrl + A all of your document (this is the only way to get rid of all of them without hunting) and on the HOME ribbon, click on the paragraph button, then click on the drop down menu next to the Cell with the Underline (what you’d use in Excel to create borders), then go down to Borders and Shading, and THEN follow the remaining directions. Thank you for saving my life!

  192. This works! Thank you so much!!!!!

  193. You rock! Thank you so much for this helpful and informative page. That dotted line is horrible and I am so happy to be rid of it. I really appreciate the detailed explanation you gave. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  194. Just had the dots show up after years of occasionally using Word (2010 now) and very happy to have found the solution so quickly. Thanks much
    What a stupid “feature”…

  195. Don Fry… Helping people every day, years after his original post! Thank you thank you thank you.

  196. Thank you, couldn’t figure out how to remove those.

  197. I’m with Word 2010. in it the tips from the article don’t work (at least with me..) Much to my relief Melissa Marote (the 5-th comment) found a solution which helped. 🙂 Thanx

  198. Thank you so much!

  199. Yet another heart felt thank you.

  200. Thanks Don for the useful suggestion.
    Well – I figured out an even easier way to get rid of the Dotted Lines
    (I use Word 2007).
    Here’s how:
    – Select the paragraph (with the dotted lines below)
    – In the Paragraph section (top ribbon menu) click on Borders option and then No Borders…. you’re done!!!

  201. Thank you! Your advice just saved me!

  202. Thank you!

  203. This helped me thanks! My adaptation of this was just to select the entire document, and go to borders and click “none”. I wasn’t aware that this annoying line actually was a border until now.

  204. Thank you, thank you. I’ve been using Word since the original, pre-release prototype (“wow, look, it automatically wraps when you edit…that will take forever to refresh”) in the mid-80’s and I had never encountered this until the other day. I did what many others did, to equal frustration, until I found this post. I used Select All (on a test copy first) and problem solved. Now I can go back to writing and stop cursing.

  205. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your easy to follow solution to such an annoying and persistent problem! Really appreciate that. 🙂

  206. Thank you. I was about to lose my mind. There is always someone who knows something. I will never forget this.

  207. You’re a star! That’s been bugging me for months. I should have looked it up sooner. Thank you.

  208. So glad I found this page! I spent half an hour struggling with this before getting so frustrated I dropped it and left for lunch. The MS Word help sites were useless. Later I searched specifically for “how to get rid of a line of squares that I entered with asterisks” and not only did I get the answer, but also a smile and a laugh as well. Thanks for brightening my day!

  209. Oh, thank you, thank you! This post is the gift that keeps on giving. I have it bookmarked for the next time something like this happens. You saved my sanity today!

  210. THANK YOU!! its 2:20am and I’m 5 pages into a 10 page final paper due tomorrow (for the record I didn’t procrastinate, I had to change my research question and redo half of my research, source-finding, reading, and all, when my professor changed the rules yet again last minute). This just saved me another 15 minutes of struggling.

  211. You are my “Hero of the Day”, Mr. Fry! Or maybe the week or even the lifetime! I have just finished editing a novel for someone and suddenly I was contending with this frightful dotted line! At noon today, I was to turn over his document. Thank you for this post! Forever grateful, Loretta

  212. Thank you. I wrote my own harmony of the Gospels. These dastardly square dots appeared out of nowhere. This was too large a document to simply copy into another document. This method salvaged my work.

  213. THANK YOU! I searched many sites, and yours is the only set of directions that worked! You saved me hours of having to retype my document, since those darn square lines refused to be deleted.

    Very appreciative,
    Krissy Krygiel Evans

  214. THANK YOU. These dotted lines were like a worm in my brain, driving me insane. I searched for hours and tried three different methods to get rid of them, and your article was the only thing that helped. Bless you!

    Sarah McGuigan

  215. For the record, I highlighted all and added a custom border then selected none and it got rid of ALL mu bad dots!

  216. You, sir, are a legend.

    Thank you

  217. Thank you so much!! Those dotted lines were driving me crazy!!

  218. Genius!!! thank you sooo much.

  219. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    Had this single line of this hanging around in a manuscript for not reason. This worked! Reblogging on Archer’s Aim!

  220. Thanks a lot. Got rid of it with your blog.

  221. Thank you so much! I can’t believe it was so hard to find an answer to this problem, and yet so simple to fix!

  222. Thanks! Much appreciated.

  223. Thanks for help…never had this problem. I couldn’t print the dotted underline text…so frustrating!!! Got rid of them by edit–select all–then go to format–then styles and formatting–then clear formatting…Thank goodness! I have NO idea what I did to cause the problem..franhvc

  224. SO appreciate finding this solution. I was facing a deadline when the critters popped up and spread. Took about 50 corrections to make them all go away. I never would have figured this out. THANK YOU

  225. Thank you very much. It was such a headache.

  226. You saved me!!! THANK YOU!

    This worked, but not by highlighting the above paragraph. I had to highlight the whole document because I had tons of clones.

    I tried copy/pasting passages to a new doc, and the dotted lines cloned themselves there, too.

    Have I thanked you enough? Probably not!

  228. BLESS YOU.
    Gratitude, Sir.

  229. thank you, you are the gift that keeps on giving apparently lol 😀

  230. Mate, your blood is worth bottling, This has been the bane of my life.

  231. Thank you so much!! How in the world did you figure that out? Totally not intuitive. I remember the days when Word actually made sense – but they keep “updating” it to the point that it’s practically impossible to use now.

  232. Do you have wings and a silver horse that can jump over the moon, too? You sure seem to be an angel! That line has ruined literally thousands of paragraphs I’ve typed since I upgraded to this terrible version of the original Word program! Word used to be so easy & logical. Now, I can’t figure it out! It seems to take superhuman brains!

  233. Thank you so much … you have saved an entire book of 55,000 words from having to be retyped.

  234. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upo yor blog and wanted to mention that I have really enjoyed
    surfing around your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing in your
    feed and I am hoping yoou write again very soon!

  235. I don’t know why, but I had a lot of dotted lines, stacked on top of one another … I extirpated all next way:
    1. Select All (text and pages)
    2. process above

    fucking Microsoft … should also extirpate them

  236. I can’t thank you enough for this entry. I have been trying for months to delete these boxes!

  237. Thank you so much for this post! I been struggling with this problem in my manuscript fro months and months and it seemed nothing I did fixed it. I was in tears today thinking I would have to retype the entire manuscript until I found your post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You have saved me from a lot of grief!

  238. Thank you! What a nightmare trying to get rid of that *x!?*! line.

  239. I’m lucky. I only battled the dot-cancer in my manuscript for half an hour before I went to The Internets for help. Bless you, Don Fry!

  240. Thank you for this tip Don! You saved me a lot of time in my work.

  241. Thank you Don – you’ve saved my life!!!

  242. I just solved the same problem. Thanks for the tipp. I selected the entire page, then went to HOME, BORDER and SHADING icon, then selected NO BORDER. I use word 2013.

  243. Incredible. Easy peasy when you know how! Huge thanks.


  245. Thank you so much! I just spent an hour trying to figure out how to remove this from an appellate brief.

    You ROCK! I spent hours trying to figure it out.

  247. Your instructions helped. Thank you!!

  248. THANK YOU! I have had this problem a couple of times working in publishing, and i finally have a real solution! I had three sets of lines and every time i tried this they were just moving. turns out if you highlight the whole document, then do this process… they all went! FANTASTIC!

  249. Thank you! Wish I’d know this when I was writing my dissertation. Hours of mindless hours wasted — on the unformatting, that is, not the dissertation:)

  250. Thank you for your clear instructions! I have spent hours on a family reunion newsletter and you saved the day.

  251. Thank you! I was able to help a student working on one of our public library computers. And thank you for mentioning the line might jump. It did so I highlighted the document, followed the steps again, and vanquished the dotted line forever!

  252. Thank you!

  253. Thank you! What an incredibly helpful post!!!

  254. Hooray! Finally a solution … thank you so much!!

  255. Servicio Técnico electrodomésticos Madrid, pionero en reparaciones de electrodomésticos en Madrid , con más 24 años reparando todo tipo de electrodomésticos, ponemos a su disposición a nuestro personal técnico para resolverle cualquier tipo de incidencia que pueda presentar el aparato, el mismo día de su aviso.

  256. […] Deleting Dotted Lines in Word | Writing Your Way – Oct 21, 2010  · I’ve finally figured out the most maddening problem in Microsoft Word. I never could get rid of these lines of small squares that reached from margin to … […]

  257. […] Deleting Dotted Lines in Word | Writing Your Way – Oct 21, 2010  · The URI to TrackBack this entry is: RSS feed for comments on this post. […]

  258. […] Deleting Dotted Lines in Word | Writing Your Way – Oct 21, 2010  · I’ve finally figured out the most maddening problem in Microsoft Word. I never could get rid of these lines of small squares that reached from margin to … […]

  259. Genius! What a frustrating problem.

  260. You are my hero.

  261. thank you SO MUCH! you have saved me tons of time and my last nerve. priceless! 🙂

  262. You the man! Thank you. I’ve been trying to get rid of these freaking things for years.

  263. This may have already been covered but as soon as you hit the “Enter” key after entering asterisks, the cursed dotted line appears. Immediately STOP before hitting many more keys and select the “Undo” function at top left ribbon. If the “Undo” function isn’t there, you can add it by clicking on the “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” (dash with down arrow below) top right of the “Quick Access Toolbar”. You can also back out of the cursed “dotted line” but continuing to click the “Undo” function multiple times.

  264. Freedom! Thank you! Thankyou!

  265. Many, many thanks!!!

  266. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

  267. I don’t know how you ever figured that out, but thank you, thank you, thank you. To call that maddening is an understatement. Thank you, once again.

  268. I cannot thank you enough for this!!! I was pulling my hair out due to these pesky lines!

  269. In the Word 2013 and above just Remove all the formatting and the problem goes away, and then paint a good format over it. I haven’t yet figured out what I hit accidently that turned it on.

  270. Thank you! Now I can grow back all the hair I tore out!

  271. I highlighted the document and clicked on the “Clear formatting” button – easy fix.

  272. Like Don said, I had to clear formatting more than once.

  273. THANK YOU!!! This has been driving me crazy!

  274. Thank you!!!! I’ve tried to fix this issue before because it’s very frustrating but couldn’t get it done but your explanation was perfect. Thank you!!

  275. Thank you. Deleting the paragraph helped. But not the borders or shading.

  276. Thank you so much!!! It was driving me crazy

  277. Good article piece. I definitely love this site . Thanks!

  278. Thank you, sir! That was very useful!

  279. I’ve struggled with this problem for months. Thank you so much!

  280. OH my goodness, thank you and Meilssa Marote! what a manuscript saver!

  281. Thanks for such labor of love. I tried it but did not succeed during three tries. I believe my problem was that the highlight covered the dots that in a sinister way attached to the prior line. I have no idea how I placed them to separate two paragraphs though I may have used a copy and paste of sorts.

  282. So helpful – thank you. Tried other people’s suggestions to no avail then found this – you are a marvel! Good luck with the writing.

  283. I tried this and it just moves the line to the above paragraph. Selecting all the text in the document and selecting text for the action failed to do anything that I can tell.

  284. YOU ARE A GOD!!!!! Thank you!

  285. You are genius. Thank you very much!

  286. Fantastic post! I’ve been going crazy with these damn squares…stubborn little sods across my ms! I finally have hope…

    PLEASE could someone give me instructions on how to get rid of them using Word on an iPad (I have to use an iPad due to disability) – all solutions seem to involve the full laptop versions, right clicking, etc! There aren’t so many options in Word now, and I’ve been through everything I can think of….still they stay there, laughing at me…grr

  287. Great help! I have spent hour in trying to fix this problem.
    Time saving and know how to fix it next time.
    Word has some nasty format issues that are so hard to remove.
    Thank You!

  288. It drove me nuts until I figured it out. This post gets more replies than anything I’ve ever written. Thanks, Don

  289. Thanks so much!!!!!!

  290. That was very helpful. It is absurd how difficult that would have been to figure out on my own. Especially considering how easy it is to accidentally create one.

  291. I once created four lines of dots, on top of each other. A Microsoft nightmare.

  292. Fantastic! I wish every problem of the over-produced Word program could be solved so beautifully. Thank you!

  293. Thanks, Victor. Solving this problem saved my sanity. Don

  294. The problem of the pesky dotted line drove me mad so I referred it to my go-to-Word-expert-daughter and it drove her mad too! Tried cutting and pasting into a new document, but the line came too. I tried your method Don, and I thank you for it, but the lines kept multiplying which is when I read Carole’s tip of Select All. Woop-de-woop the lines have gone! Thank you both! Don, can I suggest you incorporate Carole’s tip into your top explanation so that everyone can see it immediately?

  295. OMG–thanks so much for this one–had a lot of time into this before we got your advice!

  296. Outstanding to have a solution but this problem has been going on for at least 7 years!! Why doesn’t MS create an obvious & easy solution? The original solutin works but, as he says, the lines keep jumping up. I used one suggested farther down: highlight ==> Styles ==> Clear Formatting. With luck, you’re not too far along in formatting your paper….

  297. Fantastic! You are the first person to clearly describe how to get rid of this pollution in a document. Nothing irritates me more than being unable to have a document look the way I want it to look. Word Perfect was a far better program.

  298. thank you thank you thank you….

  299. AHHHHHH! THANK YOU Genius. This saved my manuscript. thank you again.

  300. Thanks. I love that fact that it’s eight years since the start of this thread and still the problem remains. Happy 2018 all

  301. I’ve recently bought a new iMac, using High Sierra and Word 2016.
    Those lines of squares are already causing me multiple nervous breakdowns, as they are infecting any new document I write. I’ve tried all the above solutions, but they don’t work for me . . . .
    H E L P ! !

  302. FINALLY!!! I have been googling this for months on end and nothing ever worked. I again googled and found this today. I now have the answer to my problems. Thank you so very much!!!!!

  303. Thank you. I have been chasing this for hours. MWAH!

  304. 2018 update, For Microsoft 365/2016. Highlight all your text including the tiny bit of grey that goes over the dotted lines. Go to Display, Go to Page borders, Borders, click ‘none’ in Settings, then OK. They’ve gone!

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