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: Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes.

Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 9, 2016)


If you use text boxes as a design element in your documents, you may want a way to create a text box that is a particular width but has no set height. This would allow the height of the text box to expand, based on the amount of text you place in it, without adjusting the width and messing up your page layout.

There are a couple of things you can try. First, you should try formatting the text box so it can expand. Follow these general steps.

  1. Place the text box in your document.
  2. Adjust the width of your text box to reflect what you need.
  3. Right-click the text box and choose Format Text Box (Word 2007) or Format Shape (Word 2010 and later versions) from the resulting Context menu. Word displays the Format Text Box dialog box (Word 2007), the Format Shape dialog box (Word 2010), or the Format Shape pane (Word 2013 and later versions).
  4. Make sure the Text Box tab is displayed. (In Format Shape pane in Word 2013 and Word 2016, click Shape Options, click the Layout & Properties icon, and then expand the Text Box category.) (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Text Box options of the Format Shape pane.

  6. Make sure the Resize AutoShape to Fit Text check box (Word 2007) or the Resize Shape to Fit Text check box (Word 2010 and later versions) is selected.
  7. Click OK.

When performing these steps, make sure you set the width of the text box (step 2) separate from specifying the "resize" setting (step 5). You'll note that the Size tab of the Format Text Box dialog box allows you to set the width of the text box. If you set the width and the check box at the same time, then some versions of Word take that as an indication that it is OK to resize the width of the text box as necessary. (Go figure—sounds goofy, but it seems to work.)

If you prefer, you can also convert the text box to a frame, since Word permits a frame to be formatted so the height is automatically adjusted. (How you convert text boxes to frames has been covered 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 (12075) 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: Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes.

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 five more than 3?

2018-03-02 13:13:16

Deborah Poulalion

You are my hero! This is exactly what I needed.

2016-10-04 09:29:16


In Word 2010 when I move the text box after I've selected the "Resize shape to fit text" box, Word clears the selection and the text box no longer resizes.

Any solution?

2016-03-21 17:17:15


In "Automatically Adjusting Height for Text Boxes" you state:
"How you convert text boxes to frames has been covered in other issues of WordTips."
I have been unable to locate this Tip.

Apart from that, my problem is that I have created an expandable box, per your instruction, but I'm also creating a fill-in form, and when I put a Content Control Rich Text in this box, I can't enter text in it. I have triple checked all obvious settings for restricting text. I can enter text when I "preview" (i.e. de-select Design Mode), but when I "start enforcement", and test the form as a normal user, this field can't be edited.

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