Documents are frequently broken into paragraphs, making them a common unit to format individually. You can change things like spacing, borders, and indentation for each paragraph easily in Word. Use the following articles to learn what formatting you can apply to your paragraphs.
Tips, Tricks, and Answers
The following articles are available for the 'Paragraph Formatting' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.
Adding a Border around Multiple Paragraphs
Word makes it very easy to apply formatting to the paragraphs in your documents. Some of that formatting may be impossible to apply in the way you want, particularly if you are trying to apply a format that spans multiple paragraphs.
Adding Borders to Paragraphs
Word allows you to quickly and easily add different types of borders to your paragraphs. Borders, background shading, and indentation can highlight information by visually separating it from the rest of the body text.
Adding Drop-Shadows to Paragraphs
Drop shadows are a style of paragraph border used to enhance the visual impact of a paragraph. They are also a great way to make sure your text really pops off the page.
Adding Paragraph Numbering
You may search high and low for a way to add automatic numbers to paragraphs in a document. You won't find the capability, but there are some workarounds you might try.
Adjusting Space Before
If you need to adjust the space that appears before a paragraph, there are several ways you can approach the adjustment. Here is a quick recap of those methods.
Adjusting Spacing After a Paragraph
There is no need to press Enter a second time at the end of each paragraph. Let Word take care of the spacing automatically by formatting your paragraphs. Here's how.
Better-Looking Full Justification for Paragraphs
If you want Word to justify paragraphs in the same way that it is done in WordPerfect, you'll want to apply the steps in this tip. In no time you can have better-looking text on your printed page.
Borders Surround Lines Instead of Paragraphs
Word gives you the ability to place borders around different elements of your document. If you try to place a border around a paragraph but you get something different, it could be because of how Word interprets what you've selected.
Centering a Paragraph with the Keyboard
Need a quick shortcut that you can use to center your paragraph between the margins? The answer is here.
Characters in the Margin Next to Paragraphs
Laying out a document can be, at times, a challenge. This is particularly the case when you need some special document feature like the addition of characters to the left of each paragraph in the document. Here are several approaches you can use to get such characters in your documents.
Compound List Formatting
Word can help you do quite a bit of complex formatting to your lists, both bulleted and numbered. Using the steps outlined in this tip, you'll discover how easy it is to set up the formatting in a way that makes entering lists a breeze.
Controlling Widows and Orphans
Got singular lines at the bottom or top of a page? These are often referred to as widows and orphans, and Word allows you to make sure that they don't occur in your documents. Here's how to format your paragraphs to account for them.
Copying Paragraph Formatting with the Mouse
When you get one paragraph formatted just the way you want, you might want to copy that formatting so it can be applied to a different paragraph. Here's how you can do it using the mouse.
Creating a Double Hanging Indent
A hanging indent is a type of paragraph formatting in which all lines of the paragraph are indented from the left margin with the exception of the first line. Word allows you to easily create hanging paragraphs, but you may want one that is indented from both the left and right, as described in this tip.
Creating a Hanging Indent
One of the more common formatting tasks for paragraphs is to create hanging indents. This tip explains what they are and shows how easy it is to create them in Word.
Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent
When formatting your document, you often have a need to indent paragraphs. If you later want to decrease the indent used on some paragraphs, you can use the shortcuts provided in this tip.
Indenting a paragraph is easy in Word. In fact, the program provides shortcut keys that make it a snap. Indenting from both the left and right margins is not as easy, but you can make it easy by using the techniques described in this tip.
Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page
When formatting paragraphs in Word, you have several options to adjust the spacing before, within, and at the end of each paragraph. Here's how to eliminate the extra space that can sometimes appear at the top of a page.
Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin
Word allows you to format a paragraph so that it extends into the left margin of the document. This is done by setting a negative indent for the paragraph.
Forcing a Page Break Before a Paragraph
There are times that you just want to begin a paragraph (perhaps a heading) at the top of a new page. Word allows you to format a paragraph so that this will always occur. Here's how.
Format Painter Messes Up Ordinals
The Format Painter is a handy tool for quickly copying formatting from one place to another. Used incorrectly, though, you may actually mess up your formatting without meaning to do so.
Getting Rid of Choppiness in Justified Text
Justified text doesn't always produce the best-looking results. Here's how to avoid some of the choppiness that can occur.
Graphics and Line Height
If the in-line graphics in your document appear "chopped off," it could be directly related to the formatting within the paragraph containing the graphic. This tip explains why this chopping happens and how you can adjust formatting so that the entire graphic shows up.
Hanging Indent Shortcut
You can use the tools on the ribbon to adjust the indent applied to a paragraph. If you want to format a hanging indent, Word provides a handy keyboard shortcut you can use.
Hanging Indents in Wrapped Text
If you use hanging indents for some of your paragraphs, you may wonder why they don't look right when they wrap on the right side of a text box or graphic. Here's the reason and what you can do to correct the formatting.
Indent and Justify Command
WordPerfect users are familiar with the F4 command, which indents and justifies a paragraph. Word does not have an equivalent single-key command, but it has commands that are just as easy to use and even some tools that are more powerful when trying to do this type of formatting.
Indenting a Paragraph
Normally your text extends from the left margin all the way to the right. If you need to indent a paragraph of your text, then you can use any of the methods described in this tip.
Indenting a Paragraph to the Next Tab Stop
Need to indent an entire paragraph from the left margin? It's easy to do using the tool described in this tip, easily accessible from the ribbon.
Keep with Previous
Word allows you to format a paragraph so that it is on the same page as whatever paragraph follows it. You may want, however, for a paragraph to be on the same page as the one that precedes it. Here's how to achieve that effect.
Keeping Paragraphs on the Same Page
Don't want your paragraphs to flow from one page to another? Word provides a formatting setting that forces individual paragraphs to stay on a single page rather than splitting across a page boundary.
Keeping Part of a Paragraph with the Next Block of Text
If you are a WordPerfect user, you may be very familiar with the block-protect feature and wonder if there is a similar tool in Word. There isn't, but as this tip explains, there are ways you can work around what may appear to be a shortcoming in Word.
Making All Lines in a Paragraph the Same Height
If the line spacing in a paragraph appears uneven it may result of the combination of a larger character or object pasted inline and using the paragraph Auto line spacing attribute.
Margins Automatically Move to Indent
Does it appear that the margins on your document aren't staying where you want them? It could have to do with the interaction between margins, indents, and the use of the Tab key, as described in this tip.
Mysterious Blue Line between Paragraphs
Do you ever have mysterious lines show up between paragraphs either on your screen or on your printouts? It could be related to how the paragraphs are formatted, as detailed in this tip.
Mysterious Boxes around Paragraphs
Do you have some mysterious and unwanted boxes showing up around the paragraphs in your document? Here are some ideas on what may be causing the problem and how to fix it.
Paragraph Formatting Shortcuts
Paragraphs are one of the elemental building blocks in a Word document. Formatting those paragraphs is easy to do if you commit just a few shortcuts to memory.
Preventing Straggling Heads
Undoubtedly you will want to format your document so that headings stay with the paragraph that follows the heading. Here's how to format your headings so Word takes care of this automatically.
Put Your Space Before or After?
When working with spacing between paragraphs, Word allows you to specify exactly how much space should be either before or after. This tip examines, briefly, whether you should put that space before, after, or both.
Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing
Need to easily adjust the vertical spacing that follows a paragraph? You can do it using dialog boxes or you can create your own shortcuts, as described in this tip.
Removing Shading from Many Paragraphs
Need to format a bunch of paragraphs within your document? Word provides some very easy ways to apply the same formatting over and over again.
Resetting Paragraph Formatting
Tired of the formatting used in a paragraph? One way to 'start over' is to make sure that the formatting is reset to its default conditions. Here's how to do the reset both manually and in a macro.
Searching for Paragraph Formatting
You can use the Find and Replace capabilities of Word to search for a wide variety of information. One thing you can look for is paragraph formatting, as described in this tip.
Selecting Default Paragraph Formatting
Want to return a paragraph's formatting back to its pristine, unaltered state? You can do so by using the shortcut described in this tip.
Setting the Distance between Text and Borders
Add a border around a piece of text (such as a paragraph), and Word makes some assumptions about the placement of that border relative to the text. Here's how to adjust the distance between text and any borders you may add.
Spacing Before and After Lists
When formatting a document that uses lists, you may want to adjust the space that appears just before and just after the list. This tip explains how vertical spacing works in your documents and how you can adjust that spacing to get the effect you want.
Tabbing Beyond the Right Margin
There may be times when you would like to use some tabs in order to extend text to the right of the main text in your paragraph. You might think you can do this by setting the tab stop beyond the right margin of your document. Word doesn't allow this behavior, however.
Triple-Spacing Your Document
Print your document with lots of space between each line by triple spacing it! Here are some quick and easy steps for getting the spacing you want without affecting your document in a lasting manner.
Turning Off Paragraph Hyphenation
Need to make sure that a particular paragraph never has any hyphenated words in it? You can make sure that Word won't automatically add any hyphens by following the easy steps in this tip.
Typing Beyond the Right Margin
In the days of typewriters, you could type beyond the right margin by using the MarRel lever or key. This tip discusses how you can get the same effect in your Word documents.
Understanding At Least Line Spacing
Line spacing is used to control how close lines are to each other within a paragraph. Word allows you to specify several types of line spacing. Here's an explanation of a way you can set the minimum line spacing for a paragraph.
Paragraphs can be aligned in four different ways. This tip examines those alignment methods.
Those with a publishing, typographic, or design background may understand what leading is, but not how to adjust the setting within Word. It's not that hard, if you know where to look.
Understanding Paragraph Alignment
One of the most basic ways to align paragraphs is to set the alignment used for the text in the paragraph. Word provides four different ways to align text, as discussed in this tip.
Understanding Single Line Spacing
Single line spacing, the default spacing used in a paragraph, allows Word to adjust the spacing of individual lines in a paragraph to fit the largest element on that line. You can adjust the line spacing by using the Paragraph dialog box, as described in this tip.