Á¼ “abc” This button toggles between display of all nonprinting characters and whatever specific nonprinting characters you have chosen to display as an alternative. This requires a little explanation. If you look at the View tab of Tools | Options, you will see six check boxes under “Nonprinting characters ” ( “Formatting marks ” in Word 2000 and above). The last one of these is “All. ” When you toggle the toolbar button on and off, this box is checked and unchecked. When it is unchecked, all you will see will be the nonprinting characters represented by whichever of the other check boxes you have checked. Usually this is none, but there might be times when, for example, you would want to see just Hidden text or just paragraph marks and none of the others. (Note that “Paragraph marks ” includes line breaks and text-wrapping breaks, discussed below). (In Word 2007, these check boxes are at Office Button | Word Options | Display.)

The shortcut key for “ShowAll” is Ctrl+* (Ctrl+Shift+8). If you’ve ever turned on display of nonprinting characters unintentionally, it may have been by accidentally pressing this key combination when you were trying to type an asterisk. The same key combination will also toggle the display off.

So what do all these marks represent?
Paragraph marks

The paragraph mark or pilcrow (¶) represents a paragraph break. You should see one at the end of each paragraph (if there is not one, you’ll likely find that you have a problem). Ordinarily you should not see one anywhere else. By this I mean that you should not be ending lines with paragraph breaks, nor should you be using “empty paragraphs” to create “blank lines” between paragraphs (in most cases this is better accomplished with Space Before or After).¶

The ¶ contains all the paragraph formatting. You can select it, copy it, and paste it onto another paragraph to copy and paste formatting (though there are other ways to do this as well). The last ¶ in the document contains formatting for the entire document (header/footer and margin information, for example) or for the last section if there are more than one.¶
Line breaks

A right-angle arrow pointing to the left represents a line break, inserted with Shift+Enter. You can use a line break to start a new line without starting a new paragraph.

A right-angle arrow between two vertical lines represents a text-wrapping break. This new break type, introduced in Word 2000 and intended primarily for Web pages, is used to force subsequent text below an adjacent text-wrapped object. For example, if you have a caption beside a picture and end it with a text-wrapping break, the text following the caption will start below the picture regardless of how long or short the caption is.
Pagination breaks

More obvious in their meaning are manual column, page, and Section Breaks. To delete these, you can simply select them and press the delete key (or you can use Find and Replace). The examples below show how they appear in Word 2003 and earlier; the display is a little different (but still recognizable) in Word 2007.

Finally, you will sometimes see a small black bullet in the margin next to a paragraph.

This indicates that the paragraph is formatted with the “Keep with next,” “Keep lines together,” “Page break before,” or “Suppress line numbers” property.

These settings are found on the Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog (Format | Paragraph in Word 2003 or earlier; accessed through the dialog launcher in the bottom right corner of the Paragraph group on the Home tab in Word 2007); if you double-click on the “bullet” itself, you will bring up this dialog with the Line and Page Breaks tab selected. Word’s built-in Heading styles by default are formatted as “Keep with next,” so you will always see these bullets next to them.