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Creating Thin Spaces

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Creating Thin Spaces.

Word does not include a feature to automatically create "thin spaces." Some people require a space that is narrower (thinner) than the regular space, to place just a small amount of space between items on a line.

The workaround is to use a regular space, and then format that space (and only that space) to a point size smaller than what is used for the surrounding text. This requires some trial and error to get the appearance just as you like it. The drawback to this approach is that if you use justified text, Word automatically adjusts the width of the spaces on a line to fit the overall goal of justifying both margins. This, of course, defeats your purpose.

You can also use non-breaking spaces, and then format them to a smaller point size. Non-breaking spaces are not "resized" by Word when justifying text.

A final option is to adjust the character spacing before and after the item that you want to include additional space. This does not add a real "thin space," but instead instructs Word to "space out" the items. This is done by following these steps:

  1. Select the item (such as an em dash) together with the space before and after it.
  2. Press Ctrl+D. Word displays the Font dialog box.
  3. Make sure Character Spacing tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Character Spacing tab of the Font dialog box.

  5. In the Spacing drop-down list, select Condensed or Expanded, depending on your needs.
  6. Using the By setting to the right of the Spacing drop-down list, indicate how much you want spacing condensed or expanded.
  7. Click on OK to close the dialog box.

Again, this approach may take a bit of trial and error on your part to get the desired effect.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1812) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Creating Thin Spaces.

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Comments for this tip:

Mike James    22 Apr 2012, 22:38
I have just come across this post, and thought I might be able to help in the matter of adding a thin space in Word.

The European Commission's Style Guide recommends using Alt+8201; it works for me.

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