Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Spacing Table Rows Vertically.

Spacing Table Rows Vertically

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When you are working with tables, you may wonder how you can easily add space before a table row. This can be important when you have the table formatted with borders, and the text in the table is too close to the border at the top of the row. Word makes it easy to add space after the information in a row, simply by adjusting the height of the row itself so it is greater than the space occupied by the information in the row. But what about before a row?

An easy way to solve this problem is with paragraph formatting. If you have a single paragraph in each cell of a row, simply select the row. You can then follow these steps:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Paragraph icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. (The icon looks like a small arrow that points down and to the right.). Word displays the Paragraph dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Paragraph dialog box.

  4. Adjust the Before setting so it represents the amount of space you want between the text and the row border. (A good setting is either 3 or 6 pt.)
  5. Click on OK.

You can also use this method if you have multiple paragraphs in each cell. The difference, however, is that you should only select and format the top paragraph in each cell, instead of formatting the paragraphs in the row as a whole.

Another way to approach the problem is to adjust the margins used within the cells. The easiest way to do that is to follow these steps:

  1. Right-click anywhere within the table you want to format. Word displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose the Table Properties option from the Context menu. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Table tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Table tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  5. Click on the Options button at the bottom of the dialog box. Word displays the Table Options dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  6. Figure 3. The Table Options dialog box.

  7. Adjust the Top and Bottom margin settings, as desired.
  8. Click on OK to close the Table Options dialog box.
  9. Click on OK to close the Table Properties dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5988) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Spacing Table Rows Vertically.

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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