Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Adding Borders to Paragraphs.

Adding Borders to Paragraphs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2019)


Word allows you to quickly and easily add different types of borders to your paragraphs. You can add borders to any or all sides of a paragraph, or you can create a drop-shadow effect. (Drop shadows cause your boxed paragraphs to "stand off" the page, providing almost a three-dimensional appearance.) To add borders to your paragraph, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point in the paragraph to which you want the border added.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the down-arrow next to the Borders tool, in the Paragraph group. Word displays a variety of options you can choose.
  4. Choose Borders and Shading. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  5. Make sure the Borders tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Borders tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.

  7. For a regular boxed appearance around your paragraph, select the Box option from the Setting area.
  8. To use a drop-shadow box, select the Shadow option from the Setting area.
  9. Word includes a 3-D box that you can use by selecting the 3-D option from the Setting area.
  10. If you want a custom border, select the Custom option from the Setting area. Then, you can control the border by clicking on the line buttons located in the Preview box.
  11. Select a line type from the Style list.
  12. To adjust the distance the borders of the box will be from the paragraph text, click on the Options button to set the From Text options.
  13. Change any of the From Text distances, clicking OK when done.
  14. Click on OK to close the Borders and Shading dialog box.

You can quickly remove a paragraph border by selecting None in the Borders and Shading dialog box or No Border from the drop-down list displayed in step 2.

After you set border attributes, Word will continue to use the same attributes until you change them again. This makes picking choices from the drop-down list easier.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8698) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Borders to Paragraphs.

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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What is four less than 8?

2017-02-14 11:54:51


In addition, the bottom border shows perfectly in the Quick Styles.

2017-02-14 11:53:09


I am using paragraph borders in my Heading styles effectively -- except on ONE style. It is Heading 5. I've looked at every single one of my Heading Styles that has the paragraph border, but I can't see a single difference in Heading 5. I can add a box around the paragraph, but when I change it to a bottom border only, it won't show until I finish the paragraph (typing "enter"). But then I end up with extra blank lines that I don't want. Can you help me?

2017-01-02 12:34:40

Benjamin C. Morin


Here is a possible solution to your problem. It is on the "Apply To:" section of Figure 1 above.

Make sure that when you select the paragraph, the "Apply To" option says Paragraph. This should clear your problem. If it says "Text," the border will then apply to each line of text that is selected.

I hope this helps.


2017-01-02 12:25:38


Jerry and Sam,

How do you have the "apply to" set? In this case it should be set to "paragraph."


2017-01-02 11:58:34

Jerry Matson

I'm following directions but still I'm getting the entire page boxed rather than an individual paragraph.

Cursor is in paragraph and I'm selecting the paragraph option'


2016-12-15 10:59:41


I highlight the paragraph, select paragraph, but the border goes around each sentence in the paragraph. I only want a border around the whole paragraph.

How to fix?

2016-06-14 09:51:15


You have to insert a text box then type your text in there. If you want a fancy border you have to add it as a clipart and move the border behind your text (grab the layout options box upper right of clipart)

2015-08-11 03:10:45


Sorry to those who are complaining... but when you apply paragraph borders and then you separate a border into two(whether it be that you create a sub paragraph or a separate major paragraph) then each paragraph is bound to have its border. First complete your formatting ad have paragraph borders as the last thing on your document.

2015-07-29 06:27:00


I'm trying something similar - putting a border around text that has outline numbering. However, when I indent e.g. numbering 1 to 1.a, that paragraph becomes a separate paragraph with a border around it. So annoying! I'm working with Word 2007.

2015-06-09 09:53:34

Teresa B

Tim- I agree with you!!!! STUPID! I'm trying to have one border around a whole section of text and it WON'T let me do it!!! Crappy design Microsoft.

2015-01-20 08:31:04


Using Word 2013
Borders are added to my quick access toolbar. I frequently use "outside borders" for paragraphs in my writing. However, it seems the "text" option is always selected, thus I must make several "clicks" to change it, thus nullifying the advantage of the quick access toolbar. How can I make "paragraph" the default option for my borders? Thanks for any tips.

2014-07-02 11:33:47


guys, I need help. I'm trying to border my paragraph with a border from art. I can use art borders on the page border tab, but like in the picture, when i go to just borders tab, the art option disappears and i can only choose width and style. How do i get a custom art border for a paragraph, like the page border ones?

2014-06-18 19:33:58


Carol, it works exactly as Tim said. If you highlight multiple paragraphs, you get separate boxes for each paragraph.

2014-03-20 15:51:07


Tim: Highlight both paragraphs you want to have border around before you add the border.

2014-03-18 19:02:55

tim repp

You can't ONE border to more than one paragraph. All I get is separate boxes for each paragraph. Dumb.

How do you draw ONE BOX around two paragraphs? This is not rocket science.

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