Paragraph Formatting

Documents are frequently broken into paragraphs, making them a common unit to format individually. You can change things like spacing, borders, and indentation for each paragraph easily in Word. Use the following articles to learn what formatting you can apply to your paragraphs.

Tips, Tricks, and Answers

The following articles are available for the 'Paragraph Formatting' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.

   Adding Automatic Lines
Want an easy way to add lines in your document? You can do it by making sure Word is using one of its AutoFormat features.

   Adding Borders to Paragraphs
Want to draw attention to a particular paragraph? A great way to do it is with a border. Word allows you to easily add borders, as described in this tip. You can add a pre-defined border or a custom one; it is up to you.

   Adding Drop-Shadows to Paragraphs
Drop shadows are a style of paragraph border used to enhance the visual impact of a paragraph. They are also a great way to make sure your text really pops off the page.

   Adding Paragraph Numbering
You may search high and low for a way to add automatic numbers to paragraphs in a document. You won't find the capability, but there are some workarounds you might try.

   Adding Tabs at the Beginning of a Line
Press a tab at the beginning of a paragraph, and Word normally assumes you want to indent the paragraph. If you don't like Word second-guessing what you are typing, here's how to turn off that annoying feature.

   Adjusting Space Before
If you need to adjust the space that appears before a paragraph, there are several ways you can approach the adjustment. Here is a quick recap of those methods.

   Adjusting Spacing After a Paragraph
There is no need to press Enter a second time at the end of each paragraph. Let Word take care of the spacing automatically by formatting your paragraphs. Here's how.

   Aligning a Paragraph in a Macro
If you are applying formatting from within a macro, you may want to change the alignment of various paragraphs. Here’s how you can do it by adjusting the Alignment property.

   Aligning Borders with the Page Margins
Add a border to a paragraph and you may find that it extends to the left and right of the regular text margins. To pull the borders back to where you want them, apply the ideas presented in this tip.

   Automatically Formatting an ASCII File
Import a file from a source external to Word, and you can end up with a formatting nightmare. One big step is to remove any extra hard returns in the document. The macro in this tip is very helpful in this regard.

   Blank Page Printing after Table at End of Document
When you print, do you get an extra blank page printed at the end of the document? It could be because of the final paragraph mark in the document being pushed to that blank page. This tip discusses ways you can get rid of that unwanted blank page.

   Centering a Paragraph with the Keyboard
Need a quick shortcut that you can use to center your paragraph between the margins? The answer is here.

   Changing Paragraph Borders
Word allows you to easily add borders to a paragraph of text. If you want, you can even change each side of the border to be different from the other sites. This tip shows how this is done.

   Compound List Formatting
Word can help you do quite a bit of complex formatting to your lists, both bulleted and numbered. Using the steps outlined in this tip, you'll discover how easy it is to set up the formatting in a way that makes entering lists a breeze.

   Controlling Widows and Orphans
Got singular lines at the bottom or top of a page? These are often referred to as widows and orphans, and Word allows you to make sure that they don't occur in your documents. Here's how to format your paragraphs to account for them.

   Copying Paragraph Formatting with the Mouse
When you get one paragraph formatted just the way you want, you might want to copy that formatting so it can be applied to a different paragraph. Here's how you can do it using the mouse.

   Creating a Double Hanging Indent
A hanging indent is a type of paragraph formatting in which all lines of the paragraph are indented from the left margin with the exception of the first line. Word allows you to easily create hanging paragraphs, but you may want one that is indented from both the left and right, as described in this tip.

   Creating a Hanging Indent
One of the more common formatting tasks for paragraphs is to create hanging indents. This tip explains what they are and shows how easy it is to create them in Word.

   Cut and Paste Formatting
What happens when you copy information from one document and paste it into another? It is possible for what you paste to look completely different than you intended. Here’s the skinny on what is happening to your text.

   Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent
When formatting your document, you often have need to indent paragraphs. If you later want to decrease the indent used on some paragraphs, you can use the shortcuts provided in this tip.

   Deleting Paragraph Borders
Got a document that has a border around some paragraphs? Here's how you can get rid of the border in the fastest way possible.

   Double Indenting
Indenting a paragraph is easy in Word. In fact, the program provides shortcut keys that make it a snap. Indenting from both the left and right margins is not as easy, but you can make it easy by using the techniques described in this tip.

   Double-Spacing Your Document
Need to produce a quick double-spaced printout of your document? You can do it by using the simple steps in this tip.

   Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin
Word allows you to format a paragraph so that it extends into the left margin of the document. This is done by setting a negative indent for the paragraph.

   Forcing a Page Break Before a Paragraph
There are times that you just want to begin a paragraph (perhaps a heading) at the top of a new page. Word allows you to format a paragraph so that this will always occur. Here's how.

   Getting Rid of Choppiness in Justified Text
Justified text doesn’t always produce the best-looking results. Here’s how to avoid some of the choppiness that can occur.

   Graphics and Line Height
If the inline graphics in your document appear "chopped off," it could be directly related to the formatting within the paragraph containing the graphic. This tip explains why this chopping happens and how you can adjust formatting so that the entire graphic shows up.

   Hanging Indent Shortcut
You can use the menu commands to adjust the indent applied to a paragraph. If you want to format a hanging indent, Word provides a handy keyboard shortcut you can use.

   Hanging Indents in Wrapped Text
If you use hanging indents for some of your paragraphs, you may wonder why they don't look right when they wrap on the right side of a text box or graphic. Here's the reason and what you can do to correct the formatting.

   Indent and Justify Command
WordPerfect users are familiar with the F4 command, which indents and justifies a paragraph. Word does not have an equivalent single-key command, but it has commands that are just as easy to use and even some tools that are more powerful when trying to do this type of formatting.

   Indenting a Paragraph to the Next Tab Stop
Need to indent an entire paragraph from the left margin? It's easy to do using the tool described in this tip.

   Keep with Previous
Word allows you to format a paragraph so that it is on the same page as whatever paragraph follows it. You may want, however, for a paragraph to be on the same page as the one that precedes it. Here's how to achieve that effect.

   Keeping Paragraphs on the Same Page
Don't want your paragraphs to flow from one page to another? Word provides a formatting setting that forces individual paragraphs to stay on a single page rather than splitting across a page boundary.

   Keeping Part of a Paragraph with the Next Block of Text
If you are a WordPerfect user, you may be very familiar with the block-protect feature and wonder if there is a similar tool in Word. There isn't, but as this tip explains, there are ways you can work around what may appear to be a shortcoming in Word.

   Making All Lines in a Paragraph the Same Height
If the line spacing in a paragraph appears uneven it may result of the combination of a larger character or object pasted inline and using the paragraph Auto line spacing attribute.

   No Space Before at the Top of a Page
Want to make sure that Word handles space before a paragraph correctly when the paragraph is at the top of a page? Check the things discussed in this tip and you’ll get just the spacing you want.

   Paragraph Formatting Shortcuts
Paragraphs are one of the elemental building blocks in a Word document. Formatting those paragraphs is easy to do if you commit just a few shortcuts to memory.

   Preventing Straggling Heads
Undoubtedly you will want to format your document so that headings stay with the paragraph that follows the heading. Here’s how to format your headings so Word takes care of this automatically.

   Put Your Space Before or After?
When working with spacing between paragraphs, Word allows you to specify exactly how much space should be either before or after. This tip examines, briefly, whether you should put that space before, after, or both.

   Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing
Need to easily adjust the vertical spacing that follows a paragraph? You can do it using dialog boxes or you can create your own shortcuts, as described in this tip.

   Removing Space Before Paragraphs
Want to quickly format a paragraph to remove any extra space before it? Word includes a tool that can make this change a snap.

   Resetting Paragraph Formatting
Tired of the formatting used in a paragraph? One way to "start over" is to make sure that the formatting is reset to its default conditions. Here's how to do the reset both manually and in a macro.

   Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles
The formatting in a document is often a mix of styles and explicit formatting, applied over time. You may want to apply style-based formatting to various paragraphs and still retain some of the explicit formatting with the paragraph. Here's one approach you can use.

   Reversing Type
Most text appears black on white, not white on black. If you want to change this so that your type is reversed, here's a quick way to do it.

   Searching for Paragraph Formatting
You can use the Find and Replace capabilities of Word to search for a wide variety of information. One thing you can look for is paragraph formatting, as described in this tip.

   Selecting Default Paragraph Formatting
Want to return a paragraph's formatting back to it's pristine, unaltered state? You can do so by using the shortcut described in this tip.

   Stepping Through Head Formats
You can use the shortcuts described in this tip to quickly change the heading levels of the headings in your document. You'll easily get the exact heading level you need.

   Stubborn Phantom Paragraphs
When converting documents from WordPerfect to Word, you may run into a problem with what the conversion produces. If you have some characters that cause problems in the resulting document, you'll appreciate the discussion in this tip.

   Triple-Spacing Your Document
Print your document with lots of space between each line—triple space it! Here's some quick and easy steps for getting the spacing you want without affecting your document in a lasting manner.

   Turning Off Paragraph Hyphenation
Need to make sure that a particular paragraph never has any hyphenated words in it? You can make sure that Word won't automatically add any hyphens by following the easy steps in this tip.

   Understanding At Least Line Spacing
Line spacing is used to control how close lines are to each other within a paragraph. Word allows you to specify several types of line spacing. Here's an explanation of a way you can set the minimum line spacing for a paragraph.

   Understanding How Word Stores Paragraph Formatting
Believe it or not, if you know how Word stores paragraph formatting, it can help you in your editing.

   Understanding Justification
Paragraphs can be aligned in four different ways. This tip examines those alignment methods.

   Understanding Leading
Those with a publishing, typographic, or design background may understand what leading is, but not how to adjust the setting within Word. It’s not that hard, if you know where to look.

   Understanding Paragraph Alignment
One of the most basic ways to align paragraphs is to set the alignment used for the text in the paragraph. Word provides five different ways to align text, as discussed in this tip.

   Understanding Single Line Spacing
Single line spacing, the default spacing used in a paragraph, allows Word to adjust the spacing of individual lines in a paragraph to fit the largest element on that line. You can adjust the line spacing by using the Paragraph dialog box, as described in this tip.

   Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph
Adding dot leaders to your text is easy through the application of tab stops. This tip explains the steps you need to follow to add those dot leaders to your paragraphs.

   Vertical Alignment of Sections
Using one of the page setup options in Word, you can specify that the paragraphs within the section be vertically aligned a certain way on the page. This tip illustrates how you can set up this type of formatting.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing