Getting rid of a line of dots that won’t go away

Sometimes when typing or formatting a manuscript in Microsoft Word, to indicate a change of scenes, you might center a group of three to five asterisks between paragraphs. Then you hit return. 

And the darndest thing happens: The asterisks turn to a whole line of them, and no matter what you do – highlight and delete them, cut and paste them to Notepad then cut and paste that back to Word – you can’t seem to delete the line. Even if you succeed in getting them off the screen, as soon as you hit return again at the end of the next paragraph, they come back!

Well, there is a way to get rid of them.

The problem is that hitting return after certain characters, such as asterisks, results in a border being created. Don’t ask me why anyone would design their software to do that.

The solution then is to delete a border by:
• Place your cursor at the end of the paragraph before the line of asterisks/dots/rule.
• Under the Home tab, in the Paragraph section, look in the lower right hand corner for an icon that appears to be a square divided into four. Click the pulldown menu next to it and hit “Borders and Shading.”
• A pop-up window will appear. Make the sure the tab atop the pop-up is on “Borders.”
• On the same pop-up window, under “Setting,” click “None” then click “OK.” The rule should disappear.

To avoid running into this problem again, hit return twice where the break between scenes should occur and then begin typing the next paragraph. Move your cursor back to the empty line and place the centered asterisks. Don’t hit return but move the cursor to where you left off with the last paragraph.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.