Unable to Delete Text

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I selected a block of text and pressed Backspace (or Delete) and nothing happened!

Most computer keyboards provide two ways to delete text: the Delete key erases forward (deleting characters to the right of the insertion point), and the Backspace key erases backward. For selected text, either of these keys will work. But what if they don’t?


This one requires a very simple change in an Options setting:

  • Word 2003 and earlier: On the Edit tab of Tools | Options, check the box for “Typing replaces selection.”

  • Word 2007: In the Editing options section of Office Button | Word Options | Advanced, check the box for “Typing replaces selected text.”

  • Word 2010 and above: In the Editing options section of File | Options | Advanced, check the box for “Typing replaces selected text.”

Word considers backspacing “typing,” and this option must be enabled in order to overtype selected text. (This is unrelated to the Overtype setting, toggled by pressing the Insert key, which allows you to type over unselected text.)


This is one you are extremely unlikely to see if you have Word 2007 or above, but if you experience it in Word 2003 or earlier, look at the status bar. You will probably see that it is displaying the message “Delete Block? No (Yes).” If you press Y, the selected text (block) will be deleted, but this is doubtless one more step than you want.

This status bar message is an indication that one or both of the options referring to WordPerfect on the General tab of Tools | Options (shown below) have been enabled. Clear both check boxes (these options are actually no help to most migrants from WordPerfect anyway), and you will not be asked for delete confirmation again.

Word Perfect options in Word 2003. These options are no longer present in Word 2007 and above

This article copyright © 2016 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.