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: Squeezing Everything In.

Squeezing Everything In

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2020)


You've finished your masterpiece, and you are ready to "go to press" (even if the press is a small printer in the corner of your work area). You take a look at the document, and notice that it is a certain number of pages long. You go to the last page and find that there are only two lines or so on the final page. If you could just get rid of those lines...

This is a common problem for many writers. It doesn't matter if you are writing letters or novellas—the problem of fitting text to a specific print area can be frustrating. What can you do?

The best approach is the old tried-and-true manual method of adjusting the parameters that affect the text on your pages. The first thing you should try has to do with the content of your document itself. Don't be afraid to take another look at your content and edit it to make it shorter. Remove superfluous words and strive to be more concise in your descriptions.

Next, you can hyphenate your document. This can close up some lines, simply by pulling "partial" words up to previous lines. This works particularly well if the right side of your document is quite ragged, meaning it has a lot of white space.

Now you can look at adjusting the margins. You can often reduce margins on all four sides of your paper by .1 inch and no one will notice. Don't forget to examine the gutter margin, if your layout uses one.

Another thing to try is reducing the paragraph line spacing. You can set spacing to a specific number of points, but a "trickier" method is to set the line spacing to Multiple, and then use a percentage in the At box. For instance, set your line spacing to .99, and the paragraph then uses 99% of its normal line spacing. You can keep reducing the line spacing by a percent point at a time, and the incremental effect is barely noticeable to the reader. Even so, the effect on your document length can be dramatic, depending on the number of pages in the document.

A related trick is to reduce the space between paragraphs. Unfortunately, you can do this only in one-point increments, but the difference between 12 points and 11 points between paragraphs is minuscule and virtually undetectable.

When the above approaches have been used, it is time to reduce point size on your document's text. It is best to start out at small increments—Word can handle increments as small as one-half (.5) point. Thus, you could reduce from 12-point text to 11.5-point text. This is barely noticeable to a reader but can have a huge impact on document length.

Finally, you can condense character spacing. Here you can be quite precise, adjusting the spacing by as little as one-tenth (.1) point. Even a small adjustment here can significantly increase the amount of material on each line in your document.

As you can tell, there are quite a few different settings you can tinker with to get your document down to size. The drawback to this is that sometimes tinkering can lead to unintended results. For instance, you may end up with a document that looks funny because you applied your "fixes" sporadically throughout the document. A more consistent approach is to use styles to define the appearance of your text. Your "tinkering" can then be done to the styles themselves, and they will be applied evenly and consistently throughout your document. (Provided, of course, you applied styles consistently to begin with.) Styles are at the heart of any professional presentation of text in Word and have been covered extensively in other issues of WordTips.

The bottom line is to take a look at what you are trying to convey in your document, and then make the formatting changes that detract from your message the least. This means that an approach you take in one document may not be appropriate for another. You need to decide what is best for your purposes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10097) 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: Squeezing Everything In.

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 2 - 2?

2019-10-03 07:21:21

R Marotta

I find the best way when editing someone's doc is to save a copy to the desktop so as not to "destroy" the original doc.
Then, I use the Show/Hide Paragraph Button found on the Home Ribbon.
9 out of 10 tens times people enter too many paragraghs entries (tapping the Enter key) or Tab key entries between paragraghes to make a space between each one. Deleteing the extra paragragh spaces / unnecessary Tabs usually is the fix you need to clear this white space problem up.

2014-05-15 12:49:03


Here's a Word 2010 macro to toggle the WP 6.x justification Stephen Bond mentioned on/off to quickly compare the "look and feel" of the WP vs Word justification.

Sub WP6xJust()
' Toggle WP6xJust Macro
ActiveDocument.Compatibility(wdWPJustification) = _
Not ActiveDocument.Compatibility(wdWPJustification)

End Sub

The Print Preview Roger Wasell mentioned with the "Shrink one page" option is under "All Commands" and called "Print Preview Edit Mode"

2014-05-12 03:11:06

Roger Wasell

You can also add the button "Preview and Print" (I'll be pretty much guessing what the name of the buttons and commands are, since I use a swedish version) to your Quick Access Toolbar by:
1. Choosing "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" from the Quick Access Toolbar menu
2. Click on "Common commands" and then "File tab" from the menu
3. Add the button "Preview and print" Make sure to add the one with the arrow to the right
4.Click OK
When you click the button, you get three alternatives. Click the last one and you'll enter Print Preview the way it looked back in the Office 2003 days.

There is a button that might be called "Shrink one page" — or something like that — in the Preview group. Click on it to reduce the number of pages.

2014-05-10 16:26:06

Stephen Bond

An option that makes a difference is well-buried: 'Do Full Justification the way WordPerfect 6.x for Windows does'. It makes the document look neater and uses less real estate particularly when font size is smaller. (Back in 97 the appearance of Word's justified paragraphs could be appalling).

You have to be using justified paragraphs for it to make any difference. In Word 2010 the option is here: File>Options>Advanced>LayoutOptions (way down the bottom of the screen)

2014-05-10 12:16:21

Pam Caswell

Changing the typeface can save space, but not from TNR (Times New Roman) to Arial. TNR to Cambria and Calibri, yes. Arial's alphabet length is longer than TNR's, so it takes up more horizontal space. You can make a comparison chart by typing all the capital and lowercase letters in one line, copying the line the number of times needed, and applying one of the typefaces you want to compare to each line. In general, the shorter the alphabet length, the more words per line of type.

2014-05-10 09:24:57

Lee Batchelor

Hi Emrys,

The Times New Roman and Arial fonts are not interchangeable because they are serif and sans serif fonts, respectively. In fact, they are both VERY dated fonts even for novels. I'd swap them out with some of the newer fonts.

Good post!

- Lee

2014-05-10 05:51:35

Emrys Rees

A very useful article. I have used many of your suggestions successfully (reducing margins, using a smaller font and reducing paragraph spacing). To hyphenate your document sounds trickier,. Often there are no hyphenated words - so no gain there. But as hyphenating is only one of many solutions, no problem there. Condense character spacing: how is that achieved please? I am wondering if a change of font, say Times New Roman to Ariial would achieve space saving? Removal of superfluous text is a good idea too. I appreciate your article.

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