Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Wrapping Spaces.

Wrapping Spaces

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 5, 2016)

Let's face it: some people like one space at the end of a sentence, and other people like two. (And some one-space people love to bash two-space people, and vice-versa—but that's another story.) Fortunately, Word is not a program that enforces a single space after sentences when you may want to use two. On the other hand, if the end of your sentence falls at the end of a line, one of your spaces may stay on the first line, and the second space may wrap to the second line. This can mess up the appearance of your page.

The first thing to do is to ensure that the extra space is really wrapping to the next line. If you have non-printing characters turned off (so they are not visible), it is very easy to mess up the formatting of a document. For instance, you may think you have two spaces at the end of a line, but you really have a single space, followed by a hard return, and then the new line starts out with a space. To check for this, just click on the Show/Hide tool on the Home tab of the ribbon (it looks like a backwards P) and see if a hard return is at the end of the line.

If there are no formatting problems, then you could obviously delete the extra space. However, there is one compatibility setting that could be causing a problem. Follow 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 Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll to the every end of the options in the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The advanced options in the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Click the plus sign to the left of Layout Options. Word shows a long list of compatibility options it can use.
  6. Scroll to the end of the list of options.
  7. Make sure the Wrap Trailing Spaces to Next Line option is not selected.
  8. Click on OK.

In normal operations with Word, this setting should not become set. However, some users have noticed that it can become set when importing documents from another Word processor, such as WordPerfect. In either case, make sure the option is cleared, and the problem of the wrapping spaces should go away.

You should also understand that the Wrap Trailing Spaces to Next Line option (step 6) is only visible in Word 2013 if you are working with a document in compatibility mode. (Compatibility mode means that the document will work with older versions of Word, most notably with Word 97 through Word 2003.) If you are working with a document created in Word 2013, then the option is not even shown in the Word Options 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 (6016) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Wrapping Spaces.

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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