Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Creating Thin Spaces.

Creating Thin Spaces

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 15, 2021)

5

Word does not include a feature to automatically create thin spaces, like it does for regular spaces or non-breaking spaces. Some people require a space that is narrower (thinner) than the regular space, to place just a small amount of space between items on a line.

There are actually a few ways you can create or approximate thin spaces in your documents. One way is to rely on some of the special spaces provided in Unicode. For instance, you could type 2009 and then, with the insertion point immediately after the 9, press Alt+X. This converts the 2009 into the Unicode character that happens to use that code. That character happens to be a thinner space than the regular space.

If that doesn't satisfy your spacing needs, a workaround is to use a regular space and then format that space (and only that space) to a point size smaller than what is used for the surrounding text. This requires some trial and error to get the appearance just as you like it. The drawback to this approach is that if you use justified text, Word automatically adjusts the width of the spaces on a line to fit the overall goal of justifying both margins. This, of course, defeats your purpose.

You can also use non-breaking spaces, and then format them to a smaller point size. Non-breaking spaces are not “resized” by Word when justifying text.

A final option is to adjust the character spacing before and after the item that you want to include additional space. This does not add a real “thin space,” but instead instructs Word to “space out” the items. This is done by following these steps:

  1. Select the item (such as an em dash) together with the space before and after it.
  2. Press Ctrl+D. Word displays the Font dialog box.
  3. Make sure Character Spacing tab is selected (Word 2007, Word 2010, and Word 2013) or the Advanced tab (Word 2016). (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced tab of the Font dialog box.

  5. In the Spacing drop-down list, select Condensed or Expanded, depending on your needs.
  6. Using the By setting to the right of the Spacing drop-down list, indicate how much you want spacing condensed or expanded.
  7. Click on OK to close the dialog box.

Again, this approach may take a bit of trial and error on your part to get the desired effect.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10626) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Creating Thin Spaces.

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 six more than 7?

2021-03-24 10:35:40

Duncan Groebe

A thin space is available in Symbols on the Insert tab in Word. Click on Symbols, then More Symbols... In the upper right of the open window, go to General Punctuation. Among the symbols presented will be apparently blank options. These are "invisible" characters like en spaces, em spaces, etc (see the lower-left area of the window for descriptions). The 10th option is a thin space.

However, inserting a thin space causes the space between the line and the next line to increase (as if adding a subscript).


2020-09-03 06:07:46

Milan Regec

What terrible advice. Just go to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin_space

Thin space and non-breaking thin space is a Unicode character, that can be easily inserted from Insert - Symbol - More Symbol.
Type respective values into "Character code:" field.
2009 for thin space
202F for non-breaking thin space


2019-12-23 18:51:07

Rachelle Borth

Thank you for this - I couldn't figure out why some spacing was expanded and some was condensed... (tight and fat before I knew the proper terminology, lol.)


2017-06-29 04:22:42

Lyn Imeson

You can also create a thin space by typing 8201 whilst holding down Alt.


2017-06-24 05:29:03

Dick Margulis

The Insert > Symbol > Special Characters dialog box offers a 1/4 em space, which is not a thin space (typically 1/5 or 1/6 em, depending on the software) but is thinner than a standard word space (1/3 em in unjustified text). This may be sufficient for the user's needs.

(see Figure 1 below)


Figure 1. 




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