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: Understanding Paragraph Alignment.

Understanding Paragraph Alignment

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2014)

10

One of the fundamental typographic specifications for laying out paragraphs is determining how they will appear in relation to the left and right margins. Word refers to this specification as alignment. There are four types of paragraph alignment you can set within Word:

  • Left-aligned. All lines in the paragraph butt up against the left text margin. No extra spaces are added to the line. The text of each line does not line up with the right margin, so traditional typesetting terminology often refers to left-aligned text as ragged right.
  • Center-aligned. All lines in a paragraph are centered between the left and right text margins. No extra spaces are added to the line. The text lines up with neither the left or right margins.
  • Right-aligned. All lines in a paragraph butt up against the right text margin. No extra spaces are added to the line. The text of each line does not line up with the left margin, so traditional typesetting terminology often refers to right-aligned text as ragged left.
  • Justified. All lines in a paragraph are expanded so they butt up against both the left and right text margins. Space is added, between words and characters, as necessary to fill out the line. In some typesetting references justified text is also referred to as "full justified." This alignment affects all lines in the paragraph except for the last one, which is left-aligned.

You can change the alignment of any paragraph by using the appropriate tools on the Formatting toolbar or by displaying the Paragraph dialog box.

There is, in addition, an undocumented paragraph alignment supported in Word: distributed-text justification. This is intended for single-line paragraphs, particularly those that use large font sizes. (For instance, you might be creating labels, signs, or placards.) This type of alignment is the same as justified alignment, except that it affects all the lines in the paragraph. The only way to apply this alignment is through the use of a shortcut key: Ctrl+Shift+J.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1478) 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: Understanding Paragraph Alignment.

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. ...

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Comments

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 minus 4?

2017-08-31 12:31:36

Bob

It would be more helpful by showing examples


2016-10-10 04:27:55

tshiamiso kiddy

i want the last line to be equal to the first line for example RE;___________ ______________

(To be in the same margin)


2016-03-07 11:43:55

A Gilmore


No matter what I've tried, the right margin will not justifi.
Please help.

Thank you


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2015-08-21 07:45:31

Elaine Dodge

You say this: Justified. All lines in a paragraph are expanded so they butt up against both the left and right text margins. Space is added, between words and characters, as necessary to fill out the line. In some typesetting references justified text is also referred to as "full justified." This alignment affects all lines in the paragraph except for the last one, which is left-aligned.

But! My last line isn't left-aligned and neither is the two word line - my kind regards line and I have tried everything. Sometimes it does it and sometimes it doesn't! How do I do it manually?


2015-08-13 10:46:24

Neha

The words should be more simpler


2015-05-16 02:16:58

bala

i converted a pdf file into word in online...so am nt able to add any information in word now...if i do ..then full alignment changing...how should i manage now ? pls help me.


2015-05-13 08:39:09

ron

Sorry, my first reply was for Word 2007 or later. In Word 2003, with the cursor in the paragraph go into Format menu > Paragraph command > Indents & Spacing tab > select "Alignment: Justified" from the drop down box.


2015-05-13 08:36:41

ron

What is the problem?

You have 2 options, to create justified text.

You can use the "Justify" button on the Home tab > Paragraph group (with shortcut <CTL><J>)

or you can use the distributed justification only by using the shortcut <CTL><SHF><J>.

However, the default Word justification sucks! If you want "real" justification in 2003 you have to into Tools > OPtions > Compatibilty tab > turn on the "Do Full Justification like WP 6.x for Windows".


2015-04-27 13:38:52

gauri

How do I justify text on microsoft word? This article has not helped me at all. Please, I really need to justify text to make my work presentable.


2015-03-20 11:50:38

rhythm sharma

Not so helpful.


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