How to Disable or Remove Field Shading in Microsoft Word

62853 How to Disable or Remove Field Shading in Microsoft Word

Field shading in Microsoft Word refers to the gray background that appears behind fields such as page numbers, captions, cross-references, etc. This shading is meant to help you easily identify fields within your document. However, some users find the shading distracting or unnecessary. Fortunately, Word provides options to control field shading.

What Causes Field Shading in Word?

By default, Word displays field shading using one of three options:

  • When Selected – The field is shaded when you click inside it or select the entire field. This is the default setting.
  • Always – All fields are shaded at all times.
  • Never – No field shading appears.

You can choose the option that best fits your preferences and needs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Disable or Remove Field Shading

Follow these simple steps to turn off or change field shading in Word:

  1. Open the Word document in which you want to modify field shading.
  2. Click the File tab and select Options. Alternatively, press Alt+F, T to open the Word Options dialog box.
  3. Click Advanced on the left sidebar. Word Options Dialog Box
  4. Under Show document content, locate the Field shading dropdown menu.
  5. Choose one of the three options:
    • Never: Disables field shading so it never appears behind fields.
    • Always: Fields are always shaded.
    • When Selected: Default option that shades fields when clicked inside or selected.
    Field Shading Options in Word
  6. Click OK to apply the changes.

The field shading preference will now take effect in the current Word document. Repeat steps for other documents to disable field shading globally across files.

Tips for Managing Field Shading

  • Changing the field shading to “Never” only affects screen display. Fields will still print normally with shading unless you change the print settings.
  • You can quickly toggle field shading on/off by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F9.
  • If you use page numbers, captions, or other fields extensively, consider leaving field shading enabled for easier editing.
  • The gray shading helps distinguish fields from regular text but can cause accessibility issues for some users.

Restoring Default Field Shading Behavior

If you want to undo your changes and restore the original default field shading behavior in Word:

  1. Return to the Advanced options under File > Options.
  2. Set the Field shading dropdown back to When Selected.
  3. Click OK.

Field shading will now return to shading fields only when clicked inside or selected.

Why You Might Want to Disable Field Shading

Here are some reasons why you may want to turn off field shading in Word:

  • The gray boxes are visually distracting or cluttered.
  • You don’t need the visual reference since you already know where fields are placed.
  • You plan to print or share the document PDF, and don’t want the shading to appear.
  • Field shading makes it difficult to read the document in low vision mode.

If the shading bothers you while editing, feel free to disable it using the steps above. Just remember it’s still available if you need the visual reference in complex documents.


Controlling field shading in Word is simple once you know where to access the options. Toggling shading on or off can improve document aesthetics and readability.

Now that you know how to remove field shading, you can optimize the view for your needs. Just dive into the Advanced settings and choose your preferred mode. Disable shading to minimize visual clutter or enable it when editing complex templates and documents.

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