When it’s time to focus: Word 2013 Read Mode

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Crafting the right content takes time and attention. To help you minimize the distractions, we created a Read Mode layout in Word. Read Mode is an option in the View menu that hides toolbars and menus to leave more room for the pages themselves.

The best part is that you don’t need to trade functionality for simplicity. The most common reading tools are built right in to Read Mode, and some helpful ones have been added in Word 2013. It’s still easy to add comments, define words, copy or highlight text, change layouts, or search with Bing. But now you can also enlarge charts or images to full-screen with a double click, and you can zip around the document with the Navigation Pane.

And not to show off, but Word developers even built Read Mode to remember where you stop reading.  You can shut down your computer knowing that you can open the document right at the same place the next time you turn on your computer.

Below is more detail on how to use Read Mode’s handy features:

Turn on Read Mode

Click View > Read Mode to switch to the Read Mode layout.  To get out of Read Mode click View > Edit Document

Turn the page

Click or tap the arrows on the edges of the screen to turn the page.

Zoom in or out

Double-click or double-tap to zoom in and make tables, charts, and images in your document fill the screen.  Just click or tap away from the object to continue reading.

Add or read comments

If there are comments in the document, you’ll see a comment hint in the margin. Click it to read that comment or click View > Show Comments to see all of the comments at once.  To add your own comment, right-click then select New Comment.

Tip: Other options on the View list open the Navigation Pane, change the column width or background color, and switch from columns to a conventional layout.

Right Click Options

You can find all of your options to highlight, define or translate, and copy with a right-click.

Expand and collapse

Collapse or expand parts of a document with a click or a tap. The expand/collapse arrow appears when you pause next to a heading.  (If you’re using a touch device, they’re always visible.)

Resume reading

Don’t do a thing!  Word remembers where you were so you can keep reading right where you left off.

Tell us what you think

There’s always a time for intensive formatting and editing when building great documents. But when it’s time for review and final changes, make sure to check out Read Mode. Let us know what you think of the feature in the comments.


  1. I promise to try Read Mode again, but honestly whenever this comes up in Outlook (when reading an e-mail) the only think I can think of is "get me out of here!" I’ll give it a shot however.

    One frustration I currently have is that when using tracked changes, I turn off the "formatting" markup to unclutter the review space. This works well for screen viewing and even in print preview, however if I actually print (to a PDF for example) all of the formatting markup comes back and I have pages and pages of formatting markup "balloons" at the end of the document. The odd thing is that this does not show up in print preview, or on screen – in fact there seems to be no way print or save the document in a format that shows the actual markup but removes the formatting bubbles off to the side, even though this is how it looks on the screen and in print preview…

  2. anguskidman

    I feel like all the effort put into Read Mode impacted on other elements — particularly Draft mode. This is what I use most of the time but it’s so buggy in Office 2013 (the option to allow documents to open in draft mode doesn’t work any more and often switching to draft mode makes the cursor disappear, which feels like a Read Mode overhang) I’m seriously considering rolling back to Office 2010.

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