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: Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes.

Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 27, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


If you use text boxes as a design element in your documents, you may want a way to create a text box that is a particular width but has no set height. This would allow the height of the text box to expand, based on the amount of text you place in it, without adjusting the width and messing up your page layout.

There are a couple of things you can try. First, you should try formatting the text box so it can expand. Follow these general steps.

  1. Place the text box in your document.
  2. Adjust the width of your text box to reflect what you need.
  3. Right-click the text box and choose Format Text Box from the resulting Context menu. Word displays the Format Text Box dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Text Box tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Text Box tab of the Format Text Box dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Resize AutoShape to Fit Text check box is selected.
  7. Click OK.

When performing these steps, make sure you set the width of the text box (step 2) separate from specifying the "resize" setting (step 5). You'll note that the Size tab of the Format Text Box dialog box allows you to set the width of the text box. If you set the width and the check box at the same time, then some versions of Word take that as an indication that it is OK to resize the width of the text box as necessary. (Go figure—sounds goofy, but it seems to work.)

If you prefer, you can also convert the text box to a frame, since Word permits a frame to be formatted so the height is automatically adjusted. (How you convert text boxes to frames has been covered 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 (3524) 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: Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes.

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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