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: Using Manual Line Breaks with Justified Paragraphs.

Using Manual Line Breaks with Justified Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 11, 2015)


Many people use justified paragraphs in their documents. These types of paragraphs align both the left and right edges of the text in the paragraph, much like what is done in many books and magazine articles. If you are one of these people, you may have noticed that when you add a manual line break (Shift+Enter) in a justified paragraph, Word forces the line to the full width of the paragraph. This can look very strange and ruin the appearance of your text.

You can avoid this problem, however, by making sure that you enter a tab character just before the manual line break. When you do, Word makes the line with the tab left aligned, ignoring the justification alignment you applied to the whole paragraph.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1324) 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: Using Manual Line Breaks with Justified Paragraphs.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Setting Up Multi-page Columns

Do you need a page layout that features columns that progress vertically across pages instead of horizontally across a ...

Discover More

Reveal Codes in Word

While there are no true Reveal Codes in Word, as in WordPerfect, as they are vastly different word processors, there is a ...

Discover More

Determining the Day of the Year

Need to find out the day of the year for a particular date? It's easy to do if you are using a macro. All you need to do ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Inserting Different Dashes

Dashes have a lot of different uses in writing. Word supports three types of dashes, as discussed in this tip.

Discover More

Strip Trailing Spaces

If you get tired of documents that always seem to have extra spaces at the end of lines, here's a quick way to get rid of ...

Discover More

Slowing Down Mouse Selection

We've all experienced the problem: You start selecting a large block of text using the mouse, and before you know it the ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five less than 8?

2017-08-06 12:12:33

Yamen Mardini

Thank you very much, simple and helpful :)

2017-02-03 15:29:41


Great tip.

2016-06-01 07:42:33


To Woody:
obviously you don't know what a "soft return" is and what it's made for!
But if you love to have the last line of every paragraph be justified, please ignore this tip and go on with your concept of appearance. But I'm not curious about what your documents look like...

2014-06-24 06:51:39


Thanks! Works perfectly :-)

2013-11-20 12:39:31


Thanks, you're really a big help. i've been looking for this one.

2013-10-12 18:37:56


This tip seems rather useless. Why would anyone choose to NOT have a line of text fully justified when the paragraph formatting is set for fully justified?

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.

Newest Tips

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.