How to Work With ScreenTips in Microsoft Word

745059 How to Work With ScreenTips in Microsoft Word

ScreenTips are small text boxes in Microsoft Word that appear when you hover over text or images. They provide additional information about that element. For example, you may see a definition pop up when hovering over an uncommon word.

ScreenTips can enhance the usefulness of your Word documents. This tutorial will teach you how to create and customize ScreenTips in Word to improve accessibility and provide helpful information to your readers.

What Are ScreenTips?

A ScreenTip is a small box of text that pops up when the mouse hovers over a particular area. ScreenTips are limited to 255 characters. They are commonly used for:

  • Definitions – Hover over a word to view its definition in a ScreenTip
  • Instructions – Provide guidance on how to interact with part of the document
  • References – Cite sources or provide additional reference information
  • Details – Elaborate on a concept mentioned in the document

ScreenTips disappear when the mouse moves away. This distinguishes them from text boxes and comments which remain visible.

Creating ScreenTips

There are a couple ways to create ScreenTips in Word:

Use the Hyperlink Tool

The easiest way is by using the Hyperlink tool:

  1. Highlight the text you want to show a ScreenTip on hover
  2. Go to Insert > Link
  3. In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, fill in the ScreenTip field with your desired text, up to 255 characters

This will insert a hyperlink, and show the ScreenTip when hovering over the link text.

Tip: To create a ScreenTip without making the text a hyperlink, enter “#” as the link address.

Use an AutoTextList Field

You can also create ScreenTips without associated hyperlinks using an AutoTextList field:

  1. Place your cursor where you want the ScreenTip enabled
  2. Go to Insert > Quick Parts > Field
  3. Select =AutoTextList under Field Names
  4. In the Field Properties, enter your ScreenTip text in the Entry AutoText field

This will insert a ScreenTip without adding a visible hyperlink.

ScreenTip Options

Word provides display options to control when and how ScreenTips appear:

Content Type

Under File > Options > Advanced, scroll to Show document content. Uncheck item types you don’t want to enable ScreenTips for, like:

  • Hyperlinks
  • Comment references
  • Drawing objects
  • Field codes

Leaving these checked will show ScreenTips when hovering over those items.


You can customize the visual formatting of ScreenTips under File > Options > Advanced > ScreenTip style. This includes:

  • Text color – For readability
  • Background color – Allows ScreenTip to stand out
  • Borders – Frame the ScreenTip for emphasis

Use sufficient color contrast between text and background colors.


Well-formatted ScreenTips can make your Word documents more accessible:

  • Define terms – Hover over uncommon words or acronyms to view their meaning
  • Provide guidance – Explain how to interact with parts of complex documents
  • Cite sources – Link out to reference materials without disrupting document flow

When creating ScreenTips, ensure:

  • Sufficient color contrast between text and background
  • Readable font size
  • Simple formatting without complex tables or images

Enabling/Disabling ScreenTips

If ScreenTips fail to appear when hovering over text, they may be disabled in your Word options:

  • Go to File > Options > Advanced
  • Under Show document content, check the desired types of content to enable ScreenTips for
  • ScreenTips will now show for those items on hover

Conversely, you can disable ScreenTips for certain parts of a document if you don’t want them to appear.

Alternatives to ScreenTips

ScreenTips have a 255 character limit. For text explanations longer than this, consider using:


Add explanatory notes at the end of the document, and link to them with superscript numbers. Endnotes have more flexibility for formatting and text length.

Text Boxes

Insert text boxes for detailed explanations that remain visible rather than showing on hover. Allows for more text, images, formatting, etc.


ScreenTips enable you to enrich Word documents with helpful hover-over definitions, instructions, references, and details. By customizing their appearance and behavior, you can craft an intuitive, accessible experience for your readers.

The creation process is simple using hyperlinks or AutoTextList fields. Take advantage of options for visual formatting and display settings to fine-tune your ScreenTips. With these tips, you’ll have informative ScreenTips popping up across your Word documents.

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