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Change line and paragraph spacing in Word – Easy guide

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2024-06-13

When creating documents in Microsoft Word, mastering the control of line and paragraph spacing is essential for presenting your content clearly and professionally. Proper spacing enhances readability, helps define section breaks, and can significantly impact the overall appearance and effectiveness of your document. Here’s a detailed guide on changing line and paragraph spacing in Word to help you format your document effectively.

Understanding Line and Paragraph Spacing

Change the line and paragraph spacing in Word

Understanding Line and Paragraph Spacing

Line Spacing

Line spacing refers to the vertical distance between lines of text. Increasing the line spacing can significantly enhance the readability of text, making it easier on the eyes, while decreasing it allows more text to fit within a given space. Here are key points about line spacing:

  • Single (1.0): This setting provides minimal spacing between lines, equivalent to about 120% of the largest font size in the line. It's compact, making it useful for documents with a lot of text.
  • 1.5 Lines: Increases the space between lines to 150% of the font size. This setting is often used in academic documents to make comments and annotations easier.
  • Double (2.0): This setting doubles the space between lines, often used for drafts or documents that require easy reading and space for editing marks.
  • Additionally, Word allows for customized line spacing settings such as Exactly and At least, which provide precise control over the amount of space between lines, measured in points.

Paragraph Spacing

Paragraph spacing concerns the space that appears directly before or after paragraphs. Adjusting paragraph spacing can help to differentiate sections of text, making the document easier to navigate and read. It is defined in two main ways:

  • Before: This setting adjusts the space before a paragraph begins. Increasing this space can help to set apart headings or new sections without the need for manual line breaks.
  • After: This setting adjusts the space after a paragraph ends. It's useful for creating natural breaks between paragraphs, enhancing the flow of the document.

Change the line and paragraph spacing in Word

This section will walk you through the steps to efficiently change both line and paragraph spacing in Word, covering techniques for applying these changes universally across a document or more selectively to specific text segments.

In an entire document

To change the line and paragraph spacing across an entire document, please do with the following steps:

  1. Go to Design tab, and then click Paragraph Spacing drop down to view various available styles.
    • Default: Applies Word's standard settings, suitable for most documents.
    • No Paragraph Space: Sets both the space before and after paragraphs to zero, making the document more compact.
    • Compact: Reduces line and paragraph spacing, suitable for documents with limited space.
    • Tight: Further reduces line spacing, suitable for text-dense documents.
    • Open: Increases line spacing, enhancing the readability of the document.
    • Relaxed: Provides greater line and paragraph spacing, suitable for documents intended for prolonged reading.
    • Double: Doubles the line spacing, ideal for drafts that require extensive annotations and edits.
  2. Choose an option, these options allow to quickly adjust the appearance of their documents to meet various needs. See the demo below:

If the preset styles do not meet your requirements, you can customize your settings further by entering the Manage Style dialog box. Click Design > Paragraph Spacing > Custom Paragraph Spacing to go to the Manage Style dialog box. Under the Set Default tab, specify the paragraph and line spacing to your need.


In selected text

Adjusting the line and paragraph spacing for selected text in Word allows for fine-tuning the readability and appearance of specific sections of your document without affecting the rest. This can be particularly useful in multi-styled documents such as reports, academic papers, or proposals where different sections require distinct formatting. In this section, we’ll explore the steps and considerations involved in customizing the spacing of selected text within Word.

  1. Select the paragraphs that you want to format.
  2. Then, click Home > Line and Paragraph Spacing icon, and then, adjust the line and paragraph spacing you want.

To customize the spacing, select Line Spacing Options from the Line and Paragraph Spacing drop down list. In the Paragraph dialog box, specify the paragraph and line spacing to your need. See screenshot:


When changes are made to line and paragraph spacing directly through the Paragraph dialog box in Word, these alterations override any preset settings under the Design tab's Paragraph Spacing button. This is because the settings provided by the Paragraph dialog box are specific to the selected text, carrying a higher priority.

When you need to quickly apply a consistent spacing style across the entire document, using the Paragraph Spacing options under the Design tab is a convenient choice.

If detailed spacing adjustments are needed for specific parts of a document, it is advisable to use the Paragraph dialog box for these settings.

Thus, if you have already set the line and paragraph spacing in the Paragraph dialog box and then attempt to use the Paragraph Spacing presets under the Design tab, these presets will not affect the specifically set portions.

Remove all spacing (before/after) from paragraphs with one click

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This comprehensive guide provides clear, step-by-step instructions on how to adjust line and paragraph spacing in Microsoft Word, covering both entire documents and selected text. To explore more tips and tricks for Microsoft Word, please click here to view additional options.

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