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: Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a Word.

Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 9, 2014)

Word allows you to easily add all sorts of flourishes to the text in your document. For instance, you might want to create a page title by adding horizontal lines at the left and right of a word. Getting those lines to be vertically centered relative to the word can be a challenge, however. As with many tasks in Word there are several different approaches you can take to the problem.

One way is to use formatted tab stops to add the horizontal lines. Follow these general steps:

  1. Position the insertion point on an empty line (paragraph) where you want your lines and word.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  4. Click the Tabs button. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  6. Set a left-aligned tab at 1 inch.
  7. Set a center-aligned tab at 3 inches, making sure that the tab uses an underline leader.
  8. Set a left-aligned tab at 5 inches, making sure that the tab uses an underline leader.
  9. Click OK to close the Tabs dialog box.
  10. Type Tab twice, followed by a space, your word, another space, and another Tab. You should now see a rough approximation of your lines and word.
  11. Select the first tab character that uses the underline leader. (This is actually the second tab on the line.
  12. Press Ctrl+D. Word displays the Font dialog box.
  13. Make sure the Character Spacing tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  14. Figure 2. The Character Spacing tab of the Font dialog box.

  15. Using the Position drop-down list, choose Raised.
  16. Using the By box (to the right of the Position drop-down list) specify either four or five points.
  17. Click OK.
  18. 16 Select the last tab on the line and repeat steps 11 through 15.
  19. 17 Select the entire line (paragraph).
  20. Adjust the tab stop positions (dragging them around on the ruler is a good way) so that your word and lines appear as you desire.

It can be intimidating to set tab stops in this manner, but you can get some great-looking results. If you prefer, you could try the following general steps instead:

  1. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Symbol tool and then click More Symbols Word displays the Symbol dialog box.
  3. Click on the Special Characters tab. (See Figure 3.)
  4. Figure 3. The Special Characters tab of the Symbol dialog box.

  5. Choose Em Dash from the list of characters.
  6. Click the insert button three or four times, depending on how long you want your line to be.
  7. Click on Close.
  1. Type a space, your word, and another space.
  2. Follow steps 2 through 6 to insert the same number of em-dashes again.
  3. Center the line (paragraph).

These steps work fairly well; for most fonts the em-dash is centered vertically by default.

The strikethrough feature can also be used to add the horizontal lines. For instance, type ten spaces both before and after your word. Select the first eight spaces and apply strikethrough formatting. Then, select the last eight spaces and do the same. Since the strikethrough goes through spaces, it looks just like a horizontal line. It should be fairly close to center of the text (vertically), as well.

Another approach is to use tables to position your text and lines. Insert a single-row, three-cell table. In the outermost cells of the table insert horizontal lines. (In the Borders and Shading dialog box, click the Horizontal Line button and select the line you want used. You can also display the Design tab of the ribbon, click Borders, and then choose Horizontal Line.) In the center cell type the word you desire. You can then adjust the various formatting settings with the table (including cell size and table positioning) to get exactly the look you want.

Another idea is to again use a table, but this time create a table that is two cells high by three cells wide. In the first and third columns, format the cells so that the only borders visible are those between the first and second rows. Then, select and merge the cells in the center column. You now have two rows in the first column, one row in the second column, and two rows in the third column. Format the single cell in the second column so that it has no borders and that whatever you type in it is both vertically and horizontally centered. Type your word in the cell and adjust the second column's width to provide the desired amount of white space at both sides of the word.

Finally, you could create the desired lines by simply drawing a single horizontal line that extends from the leftmost part of the left line to the rightmost part of the right line. Then, place your word in a text box and format the text box so it has a white background and no borders surrounding it. You should then adjust the text box so that whatever it contains is centered both vertically and horizontally. Position the text box so it is directly over the line and make sure it is aligned both horizontally and vertically with the line. Group the line and the text box so that they are treated as a single unit.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13202) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a 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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