Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 30, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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. (If you select multiple paragraphs, then the border you are defining will be applied to each individual paragraph in the selection.)
  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. Make sure the Apply To drop-down list (lower-right corner) is set to Paragraph.
  8. For a regular boxed appearance around your paragraph, select the Box option from the Setting area.
  9. To use a drop-shadow box, select the Shadow option from the Setting area.
  10. Word includes a 3-D box that you can use by selecting the 3-D option from the Setting area.
  11. 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.
  12. Select a line type from the Style list.
  13. 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.
  14. Change any of the From Text distances, clicking OK when done.
  15. 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.

Note the caveat shown in step 1—if you select multiple paragraphs, then the border is applied to each individual paragraph in your selection. If you, instead, are looking for a way to apply a border around the outside of a group of paragraphs, you'll need to use a workaround. Either of the following will do:

  • Create a text box and then put the paragraphs inside the text box. You can then apply a border to the text box.
  • Edit the paragraphs you want boxed so they are treated as a single paragraph. You do this by changing the hard returns in the paragraphs into line breaks.

Either of these workarounds will take a bit of testing and practice to get exactly the effect you want.

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 Microsoft 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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