Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Breaking Lines in E-mail.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 5, 2015)
Most e-mail client programs—especially those that use plain text instead of HTML—automatically "break" each line of e-mail at 70 or 72 characters. Fortunately, they do not typically break a line in the middle of a word, but do so at the beginning of the word that reaches the 70- or 72-character mark.
Unfortunately, this can have some adverse effects on e-mail you compose in Word. Some of your lines, when viewed by your recipient, can look strange, breaking at less-than-optimal places and generally looking pretty funky. The solution, of course, is for you to break each line when the appropriate place on the line is reached. This way you can control, ahead of time, how your recipient sees your message.
You can do this manually, if desired, by setting your message margins such that there is only 7 or 7.2 inches of space horizontally. You would then use a 12-point monospace font, such as Courier, to type the message. When a word wraps to the next line, simply backspace to the beginning of the word and press the Enter key.
This could get VERY old VERY fast, even if you send only a moderate amount of e-mail. The better solution is to allow Word to do the breaks for you, yet there does not seem to be such a capability in Word. (You can set up your options in Outlook or Outlook Express to automatically break lines for you, but that doesn't give you as fine a control as doing it directly within Word.)
This brings us to macro territory. You can use the following macro to inspect the current document and automatically "chop up" each paragraph so that no line is over 70 characters in length.
Sub ChopItUp() Dim DocThis As Document, docThat As Document Dim sParRaw As String Dim iParCount As Integer, iParOut As Integer Dim J As Long, X As Integer Dim iLineWidth As Integer Dim sLeft As String, sRight As String Dim sTemp As String iLineWidth = 70 Set DocThis = ActiveDocument Documents.Add Set docThat = ActiveDocument DocThis.Activate iParCount = DocThis.Paragraphs.Count iParOut = 0 For J = 1 To iParCount sParRaw = DocThis.Paragraphs(J).Range.Text If Right(sParRaw, 1) = Chr(13) Then sParRaw = Left(sParRaw, Len(sParRaw) - 1) End If sRight = sParRaw If Len(sRight) > iLineWidth Then While Len(sRight) > iLineWidth sLeft = Left(sRight, iLineWidth) sRight = Mid(sRight, iLineWidth + 1) flgDoIt = True If Left(sRight, 1) = " " Then sRight = Mid(sRight, 2) flgDoIt = False End If If Right(sLeft, 1) = " " Then sLeft = Left(sLeft, Len(sLeft) - 1) flgDoIt = False End If If flgDoIt Then X = InStr(LTrim(sLeft), " ") If X > 0 Then sTemp = "" While Right(sLeft, 1) <> " " sTemp = Right(sLeft, 1) & sTemp sLeft = Left(sLeft, Len(sLeft) - 1) If Len(sLeft) = 0 Then sLeft = sTemp & " " sTemp = "" End If Wend sRight = sTemp & sRight End If sLeft = Trim(sLeft) End If docThat.Paragraphs.Add docThat.Paragraphs(docThat.Paragraphs.Count).Range = sLeft sLeft = "" sRight = Trim(sRight) Wend End If docThat.Paragraphs.Add docThat.Paragraphs(docThat.Paragraphs.Count).Range = sRight Next J End Sub
When you run this macro, it opens a brand new document and copies the information from the old document to it, making sure that each line is no longer than 70 characters. The new document will not contain any formatting. (Since you are putting together plain-text e-mail, this should not be a problem.) If you want a different line width, all you need to do is change the value assigned to iLineWidth in the macro.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11466) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Breaking Lines in E-mail.
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