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: Setting the Distance between Text and Borders.

Setting the Distance between Text and Borders

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 25, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


One common formatting effect within Word is the application of borders around a paragraph. Word allows you to apply borders to all four sides of a paragraph—you can even have the borders be different from each other, if desired.

After applying border formatting, you may decide that you need some more room between the actual border lines and the text within the paragraph. You can easily adjust this distance by following these steps:

  1. Select the paragraphs you want to affect. (If you only need to format a single paragraph, just make sure the insertion point is within that paragraph.)
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Paragraph group, click the down-arrow to the right of the Borders tool. Word displays a series of choices, including a number of different borders you could add.
  4. Select Borders and Shading. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Borders tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.

  6. If you had not previously done so, make sure you select the borders you want to appear around the paragraph.
  7. Click on the Options button. Word displays the Border and Shading Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Border and Shading Options dialog box.

  9. Use the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right controls to specify, in points, the distance between the respective border and the paragraph text.
  10. Click the OK button two times.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7121) 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: Setting the Distance between Text and Borders.

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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