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: Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page.

Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 20, 2016)

1

When you define the formatting for a paragraph (such as a heading), you can instruct Word to add additional space before the paragraph. This is often helpful in page layout to visually separate sections of your document from one another. If the paragraph that is formatted with extra space before it falls at the top of a page, Word will sometimes remove the extra space and sometimes it won't.

To understand when Word does and does not remove the space, it is helpful to understand the reasons for which a paragraph may be placed at the top of a page. There are basically seven ways:

  1. The paragraph is at the very beginning of the document.
  2. The paragraph naturally falls at the top of the page based on unrestricted text flow.
  3. The paragraph has the "keep with next" attribute set, and that setting causes the paragraph to appear at the top of the page.
  4. The paragraph has the "page break before" attribute set, which forces the paragraph to begin at the top of a new page.
  5. The paragraph is preceded by a section break.
  6. The paragraph is preceded by a manual page break.
  7. The paragraph is preceded by a manual column break.

Under normal circumstances, Word maintains any space before the paragraph, except in two instances: if the paragraph naturally falls at the top of the page (number 2 above), or if the "keep with next" attribute is set (number 3 above).

To complicate matters, however, Word allows you to configure "compatibility options" that modify how a document is displayed on the screen. There are two such options that would, at first glance, seem to affect how paragraphs are displayed at the top of a page. You can find these options by following these two steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Compatibility tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Compatibility tab of the Options dialog box.

If you scroll through the list of options on the tab, you will see two of interest. The first is called "Suppress Extra Line Spacing at Top of Page," and the second is called "Suppress Space Before After a Hard Page or Column Break." These compatibility options are available in Word 2000, Word 2002, and Word 2003.

The first option, even though it mentions spacing at the top of the page, does nothing to affect whether Word swallows up space before a top-of-page paragraph. The reason is within the wording of the option itself, which tells you that it only affects line spacing, not space before the paragraph.

The other option, "Suppress Space Before After a Hard Page or Column Break," only changes whether Word displays space before top-of-page paragraphs in instances 6 and 7, above. Thus, even with this option turned on Word will always display the space before a paragraph when the paragraph is at the beginning of the document (instance 1 above), when it has the "page break before" attribute set (instance 4), or when the paragraph follows a section break (instance 5).

The bottom line is that there is only one way to make sure that Word doesn't display space before a paragraph that occurs at the top of a page: to format the paragraph so it doesn't have space before it. You can either manually format the paragraph, or you can define a new style, sans space before, that can be applied to top-of-page paragraphs. The drawback to such an approach, however, is that if you make edits to the document and the specially formatted paragraph no longer appears at the top of the page, you will need to correct the formatting for the paragraph so the proper space appears before it.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1581) 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: Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using the EOMONTH Function

If you need to determine the date of the last day in a month, it's hard to beat the flexibility of the EOMONTH function. This ...

Discover More

Updating a Field in a Text Box

If you put a field into a text box, you might be surprised to find that it doesn't update when you try to update all your ...

Discover More

Selecting Random Names

Got a ton of names from which you need to select a few random names? There are several ways you can extract what you need; ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a Word

Want to add a couple of horizontal lines at the sides of a word? It can be trickier than it sounds, but there are several ...

Discover More

Jumping to the End of Page after Enter

Imagine you start typing in a new document, and when you press the Enter key the cursor jumps a huge distance to the bottom ...

Discover More

Inserting Signature Lines

How to create signature lines in a Word document.

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

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. 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 two more than 9?

2016-05-17 20:01:25

Lucy

I think I did what you suggested but I still have unwanted space before my first paragraph begins


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
Subscribe

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