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: Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing.

Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2015)

One of the finishing touches that many people need to apply to their documents is to precisely adjust the spacing between their paragraphs to achieve a desired look. Word provides quite a bit of control over the spacing between paragraphs. You do this by adjusting the Before and After values in the Paragraph dialog box.

If you do quite a bit of adjusting space before or after a paragraph, it can become tedious to continually display the Paragraph dialog box and make the adjustments. Unfortunately, Word does not include any keyboard shortcuts that allow you to adjust this type of spacing quickly. You can, however, achieve an equivalent ease-of-use by developing your own macros.

For instance, the following macros will adjust the space after a paragraph by a single point.

Sub SAPlus()
   Dim SA As Integer
   SA = Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter + 1
   If SA > 1584 Then SA = 1584
   Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter = SA
End Sub

Notice that the macro only allows you to increase the space after a paragraph to 1584 points. This is because this is the maximum value allowed by Word; a higher value would generate an error. A slight variation on the macro results in one for decreasing space after a paragraph:

Sub SAMinus()
   Dim SA As Integer
   SA = Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter – 1
   If SA < 0 Then SA = 0
   Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter = SA
End Sub

Note that these macros could easily be modified to use some other value or formula for calculating the increment or decrement for spacing. For instance, you could add or subtract 6 points at a time, if desired. You could also change the macros so they apply to the space before a paragraph by simply changing every occurrence of "after" to "before."

The final trick to make these macros really useful is to assign them to a keyboard combination or buttons on the toolbar. You can do this using information provided in other issues of WordTips.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1669) 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: Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing.

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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