How to Control Line and Paragraph Spacing in Microsoft Word

918913 How to Control Line and Paragraph Spacing in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word allows you to precisely customize the line and paragraph spacing of your documents. Proper spacing improves readability and makes your documents look clean and professional. In this article, we’ll walk through the various methods to control spacing in Word.

What is Line Spacing?

Line spacing refers to the distance between each line in a paragraph. It’s measured from the bottom of one line to the bottom of the next line.

Common line spacing options in Word include:

  • Single – The default spacing that leaves no extra space between lines.
  • 1.5 lines – Adds half a line of space between each line.
  • Double – Adds a whole extra line of space between lines.

You can also set custom line spacing based on font size. For example, you may set the line spacing to be exactly 12 or 14 points.

Adjusting line spacing affects readability:

  • Tighter line spacing can look cramped and hard to read.
  • Larger line spacing improves readability but takes up more vertical space.

What is Paragraph Spacing?

Paragraph spacing controls the vertical space before and after paragraphs. It includes:

  • Space Before – The space above the first line of a paragraph.
  • Space After – The space below the last line of a paragraph.

Common options are 0, 6, 12, or 18 points of spacing. 0 points leaves no space while 12 points leaves a gap equal to 12 points of font size.

Paragraph spacing affects document formatting:

  • Extra spacing between paragraphs improves readability for long blocks of text.
  • Removing space between paragraphs saves vertical space and allows more content to fit per page.

Changing Line Spacing in Word

Follow these steps to change line spacing in Word:

  1. Select the paragraph(s) you want to adjust.
  2. On the Home tab, go to the Paragraph section.
  3. Click the Line Spacing button and select one of the preset spacings. Line spacing button
  4. Alternatively, click Line Spacing Options to set custom spacing:
    • Choose Exactly and enter your desired spacing in points.
    • Choose Multiple to set spacing based on font size. For example, 1.5 lines.
    Line spacing options
  5. The new line spacing is applied.


  • To quickly set 1.5 line spacing, click the 1.5 button on the Home tab.
  • Use the Line Spacing ruler on the Home tab to eyeball spacing.
  • You can copy line spacing from one paragraph to paste into others.

Changing Paragraph Spacing in Word

To set paragraph spacing in Microsoft Word:

  1. Select the paragraph(s) you want to modify.
  2. On the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing button. Paragraph spacing button
  3. In the menu, choose Add Space Before Paragraph or Add Space After Paragraph to apply preset spacing.
  4. To set custom spacing, select Line and Paragraph Spacing Options instead.
  5. In the Paragraph section, modify the Before and After spacing. Paragraph spacing options
  6. Click OK. The new paragraph spacing is applied.


  • Setting paragraph spacing to 0 points removes existing spacing.
  • Use the Paragraph Spacing ruler on the Home tab to preview spacing.
  • The spacing between two paragraphs is equal to the larger of the two After/Before spacings.

Line and Paragraph Spacing Recommendations

What are good paragraph and line spacing settings for common document types? Here are some recommendations:

Academic Papers

  • Line Spacing – 1.5 lines or Double
  • Paragraph Spacing – 0 points Before/After

Academic papers typically use a larger line spacing with no extra space between paragraphs. This formatting saves vertical space to keep papers concise.

Business Documents

  • Line Spacing – 1.15 lines
  • Paragraph Spacing – 6 points Before/After

Business documents look professional with wider line spacing and a small amount of space between paragraphs. The spacing improves readability while maintaining a concise length.

Books / eBooks

  • Line Spacing – 1.2 lines
  • Paragraph Spacing – 0 points Before/After

Books often use tighter line spacing to fit more content per page. Paragraph spacing is removed to further save space. Widening line spacing slightly improves readability.

Web Content

  • Line Spacing – 1.5 lines
  • Paragraph Spacing – 12 points Before/After

Online content uses large line spacing and paragraph gaps to maximize clarity. Generous spacing prevents a dense wall of text on websites.

Tips for Proper Document Spacing

Here are some key tips for working with line and paragraph spacing in Word:

  • Be Consistent – Use consistent spacing throughout your document for a uniform appearance. Avoid mixing different spacings.
  • Prioritize Readability – Loosen up spacing if paragraphs look too dense or crammed together.
  • Check Appearance – Print a page to see spacing accurately. Screens can hide spacing issues.
  • Set Styles – Create and apply custom paragraph styles to quickly change spacing in long Word documents.
  • Preview Changes – Use the Spacing ruler and Layout tab to preview spacing changes before applying them.

Properly adjusting line and paragraph spacing is an important part of Word document formatting. Follow the recommendations here to optimize spacing for any document type. Proper spacing ensures your documents are readable, professional, and visually appealing.

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