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: Adjusting the Width of Characters.

Adjusting the Width of Characters

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 20, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word provides a way you can adjust the horizontal size of characters in your document. Actually, the scaling can be applied to any characters in a selection. To format characters in this way, follow these steps:

  1. Select the characters you want to scale.
  2. Press Ctrl+D to display the Font dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Character Spacing tab (Word 2007) or the Advanced tab (later versions of Word) is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced tab of the Font dialog box.

  5. Use the Scale drop-down list to specify the scaling you want applied to the characters. You can select from a pre-defined scale, or enter any value between 1% and 600%.
  6. Click on OK.

As an example of what this does to your characters, take a look at the following figure. (See Figure 2.) The first line has the letters "ABCD" in the normal font, and the only difference in the second line is that the letters "BC" have had their Scale setting changed to 500%. Notice that the height of the characters isn't changed; only their width is changed.

Figure 2. An example of width-adjusted characters.

If you find you have a need to scale quite a few selections in your documents, you can add a scaling tool to the Quick Access Toolbar by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box, click the Customize option (Word 2007) or Quick Access Toolbar option (later versions of Word).
  3. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose All Commands.
  4. Scroll through the list of commands until you find the Character Scaling command.
  5. Select the command by clicking it once.
  6. Click the Add button. The command now appears at the right side of the dialog box.
  7. Click the OK button. The command now appears on the Quick Access Toolbar.

With the Character Scaling tool in place, you can easily change the scaling of any selected text at any time.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6009) 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: Adjusting the Width of Characters.

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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