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: Vertical Lines in Word.

Vertical Lines in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 27, 2014)

9

For some documents you may have a need to insert vertical lines. There are actually four or five ways you can do this in Word. The actual method you choose depends on your document needs and which appeals to you the most. The first method involves drawing a line:

  1. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Shapes tool and then click one of the line shapes from the Line group. The mouse pointer changes to a crosshair that looks like a large plus sign.
  3. Click at one end of where you want your line, but don't release the mouse button.
  4. Drag the mouse to where you want the other end of the line positioned.
  5. Release the mouse button.

The second method involves using bar tab stops. You can see how these appear by following these steps:

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs that you want to contain vertical bars.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  4. Click the Tabs button, at the lower-left of the dialog box. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  6. In the Tab Stop Position box enter a horizontal measurement that indicates where you want the bar to appear. Thus, if you want it 2 inches from the left margin, you would enter 2 in the box.
  7. Click on the Bar radio button.
  8. Click on Set.
  9. Repeat steps 5 through 7 to set other bar positions.
  10. Click on OK when you are done.

Another method that works well if you want the line to appear beside a paragraph is to use borders:

  1. Place the insertion point within a paragraph of text or, if preferred, select the entire paragraph.
  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 drop-down list of options.
  4. Choose the Left Border or Right Border option, as desired. Word adds the border to either the left or right side of the paragraph, as appropriate.

If you have multiple columns in your document and you want vertical lines between the columns, you can follow these steps:

  1. Select the text that you want in columns. (If you don't do this step, then your entire section or document will be formatted into columns.)
  2. Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Columns tool in the Page Setup group and then click More Columns. Word displays the Columns dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Columns dialog box.

  5. Specify the number of columns into which you want the text formatted.
  6. Make sure the Line Between check box is selected.
  7. Click on OK.

The final way to create vertical lines is to use tables. While this may seem a bit convoluted, it will work great for small sections of text. To use this method, follow these general steps:

  1. Create a table that has a single row but as many columns as you want your text divided into.
  2. Select the table.
  3. Make sure the Design tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  4. Click the Borders tool (in the Table Styles group) and then choose No Border.
  5. Again click the Borders tool and then choose Inside Vertical Border.
  6. Enter your text in each cell of the table.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9503) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Vertical Lines in Word.

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

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What is 2 + 0?

2018-07-16 02:26:52

Daniel Lamarche

Hello Allen. I visit your Web site on occasion. It is obvious that you put lots of work into it. Thanks.
The reason for my comment is that you gave me the solution to a nasty bug in Word 2013-16 with vertical Bar tab in the ruler. In 2010 the user simply needed to add the Vertical tab to the ruler then drag it in the left margin. That's all I knew. In 13-16 this does not work anymore!!!! Instead, it's 2 minutes of intense work. As a Word instructor I always felt embarrassed to show that feature.

However, your suggestion of using a left border is simple amazing. Can't believe I never thought of that!

Thanks alot. That is my highlight of the day!!!

D. Lamarche



2017-09-24 16:28:04

Eileen

So many ideas, and not one of them works for what I want to do. Amazing.....
Contained in a border, I want horizontal lines and multiple various size columns with lines dividing them,and the ability to move at will from one column to the next without going down to bottom of the page to get to the next column. It should not be this difficult.


2016-12-09 04:00:38

Chris Phillips

For Vertical and Horizontal lines in Drawings there is a setup procedure. Start a drawing, click Drawing Tools/ Format/ Arrange/ Align drop down to tick 'Use Alignment Guides'. Now you should be able to hold the Shift key as previously as you position lines. Phew!


2015-03-10 14:06:48

Nancy

The first suggestion makes a fine line, but my Smart Art program recognizes its shapes, but not its lines, so that the line I draw remains blue. Can't find a way to change color; wonder if my program is somehow incomplete.


2014-12-30 06:02:24

Ken Endacott

The different types of lines have different uses.
Bar tabs and line shapes are at a specific position on the page and can pass through text and in-line pictures. The other line types have word wrap at the line.
Bar tabs and column lines are one point black whereas the others can be any thickness color and pattern.


2014-12-29 12:38:39

Carolyn

I agree with Ken. The results from the bar tab method aren't worth the time it takes to set it up.


2014-12-29 05:22:27

Surendera M. Bhanot

The best one is using the 'Border and Shading' Tool in 'Paragraph' Group on the Home Tab on the ribbon. It gives you all the flexibility that you require, colour, weightage and the styles etc. I use it a lot and it really pop-up your document.


2014-12-29 00:13:10

Ken Endacott

The bar tab method also gives only a black one point line.


2014-12-27 09:41:16

Maryland, USA

It's a shame that if you want to use a recurring line between columns, Word wont' let you choose its color, thickness, or style. To paraphrase Henry Ford's boast about the Model T, "You can choose any color, style, and thickness you want, as long as it's black, 1 point, and solid."


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