Microsoft Word: Other Document Formatting Tips

Paragraph Dialog Box

Paragraph Dialog Box

When it comes to properly formatting documents in Microsoft Word, using the Ruler and Tab Stops aren’t the only features that help you create a clean looking product. There are many additional features built into Word designed to help you make the most out of your formatting, if you know where to find them.

*Note: This post is specifically geared towards Word 2007 / 2010 users. If you use a different version, you probably have the same features, but they may or may not be in a different location.*

Adjust the Space Between Lines

Sometimes it’s helpful to have extra spacing between lines of text, particularly when you’re giving the document to someone else for review and editing.

To adjust the space between text, highlight the information that you would like to change the spacing on (or do this on a blank Word document before typing), then right click, and when the menu appears, select Paragraph.

The Paragraph dialog box will appear, allowing you to change various aspects of your paragraph. The last section is about spacing. To change your spacing, change the drop down under Line Spacing from Multiple to whatever you want, such as Single (for single spacing) or Double.

To further adjust the space between lines, change the After field (to the left of Line Spacing) to something other than 10 pt. Note: The higher the number the greater the spacing, and vice versa. Once everything is

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adjusted, click OK to save your settings.

Tip: When adjusting a document to single spacing, change the Line Spacing to Single, and the After field to 0 pt.

Increasing and Decreasing Indents

When you want a paragraph indented a certain way, you don’t want to hit tab repeatedly, as manual formatting can cause a lot of unnecessary, extra work to make sure everything lines up correctly. Instead, use the Increase / Decrease Indent buttons, to indent your paragraphs just the way you want them.

Increase Decrease Indent

Increase / Decrease Indents

To use this feature, either click before the paragraph in question, to move the cursor, or highlight the paragraph. Then, click on the Increase Indent button located on the Ribbon under Home > Paragraph. (See image for more details.)

If, for example, you want to increase your indent, and one click doesn’t quite do it, click the increase indent button again, until your text is formatted the way you want.

The Paragraph Button

When you can’t format your document properly, but you don’t know why, you need to use the Paragraph button. This button is probably one of the more underused features in Word. However, when used properly, it can work wonders.

Paragraph Button

Paragraph Button

To view your Paragraph formatting, click on the Paragraph button, otherwise known as the large backwards P on the top of the Paragraph section of the Ribbon. (See image for more details).

When activated, this feature shows you ever space, every return, every part of the layout in great detail, which can often help you find and fix where formatting went wrong. To turn off the feature, simply click on the paragraph button again.

Knowing how to use these few simple tools in Word can go a long way in helping you create clean looking, well laid out documents.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you create clean looking documents. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.

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