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: Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing.

Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 11, 2016)

3

One of the finishing touches that many people need to apply to their documents is to precisely adjust the spacing between their paragraphs to achieve a desired look. Word provides quite a bit of control over the spacing between paragraphs. You do this by adjusting the Before and After values in the Paragraph dialog box.

If you do quite a bit of adjusting space before or after a paragraph, it can become tedious to continually display the Paragraph dialog box and make the adjustments. Unfortunately, Word does not include any keyboard shortcuts that allow you to adjust this type of spacing quickly. You can, however, achieve an equivalent ease-of-use by developing your own macros.

For instance, the following macros will adjust the space after a paragraph by a single point.

Sub SAPlus()
   Dim SA As Integer
   SA = Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter + 1
   If SA > 1584 Then SA = 1584
   Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter = SA
End Sub

Notice that the macro only allows you to increase the space after a paragraph to 1584 points. This is because this is the maximum value allowed by Word; a higher value would generate an error. A slight variation on the macro results in one for decreasing space after a paragraph:

Sub SAMinus()
   Dim SA As Integer
   SA = Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter – 1
   If SA < 0 Then SA = 0
   Selection.ParagraphFormat.SpaceAfter = SA
End Sub

Note that these macros could easily be modified to use some other value or formula for calculating the increment or decrement for spacing. For instance, you could add or subtract 6 points at a time, if desired. You could also change the macros so they apply to the space before a paragraph by simply changing every occurrence of "after" to "before."

The final trick to make these macros really useful is to assign them to a keyboard combination or buttons on the toolbar. You can do this using information provided in other issues of WordTips.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8960) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing.

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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Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 4?

2013-08-26 07:53:15

Bryan

@Bruno V: when I copy/paste the code I get the compile error as well, but if you manually type it the error does not appear. It seems that Allen used an n-dash instead of a minus sign, and the VBA IDE doesn't handle it correctly. Simply delete it then enter a minus sign from your keyboard.


2013-08-24 10:22:31

Aprile Morgan

Rather than writing a macro, it would be much simpler to just use a style. For example, for plain text paragraphs with 12pt after, you could use Body Text style. Once you set up the style with the appropriate spacing after (or before if you desire), you can then select the paragraphs and then choose the Body Text style and voila! your paragraphs have your desired spacing


2013-08-24 06:25:13

Bruno V

Hi, this is a wonderful tip. It works impeccably for adding a point. But reducing by a point (copy and paste of macro above) generates a compile error. I have tried to remove the space between - and 1, but same problem. The thing is that I often find myself manually reducing (and not so much adding) spaces after a paragraph, so am keen on hearing how to solve the error...


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