Decreasing Space between Body Text and Footer Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 4, 2020)

10

Mindy would like to decrease the space that appears between the last line of text on a page and the common text (document title, date, page number, etc.) that appears in her page's footer. She's unclear on how to do this in Word, so is looking for a bit of direction.

There are actually two—and possibly six—settings at play when Word lays out your text near the bottom of a page. The first setting is your actual page margin setting. This setting determines the margins for the main body of text on each page of your document. Start by displaying the Page Layout tab of the ribbon and then clicking the small icon at the bottom-right of the Page Setup group. Word displays the Page Setup dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Margins tab of the Page Setup dialog box.

Note the settings in the Margins area, particularly the Bottom setting. This is where you set your bottom margin for the page. If the Bottom setting is 1 inch, then Word makes sure that nothing in the body of your text extends into the one-inch of space at the bottom of the printed page.

Now display the Layout tab of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Layout tab of the Page Setup dialog box.

The setting you want to pay attention to here is the Footer setting. Note that this setting specifies how far the footer should appear from the bottom edge of your printed page. Thus, a setting of .5 inches means that the footer will appear a half-inch from the bottom of the page. The setting actually represents where the baseline of the bottom line in the footer will appear. (The baseline is the imaginary line on which letters "sit." Some letters include descenders—like the lowercase j or p—which means those letters "descend" below the baseline.)

For the most part it is these two settings—Bottom on the Margins tab and Footer on the Layout tab—that together define the distance between the body text and the footer text. You can reduce the distance between the text and the footer by decreasing the Bottom setting and/or increasing the Footer setting.

You'll want to make sure that you don't "overlap" the Bottom and Footer settings. For instance, you wouldn't want to specify a Bottom setting of .75 inches and a Footer setting of .8 inches. If you do something like this, then Word gives the Footer setting precedence and implicitly "moves" the bottom text margin so that the footer and the body text don't print on top of each other.

I mentioned earlier that there are potentially three other settings which can affect the space between body text and footer text. There are four settings that can be applied to paragraphs (either explicitly or through the use of styles) that affect what happens to paragraphs at the bottom of a page. You can see these settings if you display the Home tab of the ribbon and click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box. You want to pay attention to the Line and Page Breaks tab. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog box.

At the top of the tab are four settings that control how Word "paginates" the paragraph. They have the following effect on text that appears at the bottom of a page:

  • Widow/Orphan Control. If a single line would appear at the top of the following page, an extra line is moved from the bottom of the page so that at least two lines appear at the top of the next page. If this movement means that a single line is left at the bottom of the page, then the entire three-line paragraph is moved to the top of the next page.
  • Keep with Next. The paragraph must appear with the paragraph that follows it, so it is moved to the next page.
  • Keep Lines Together. All lines in the paragraph must appear on the same page, so if at least one line would normally flow to the next page, then the entire paragraph is moved to the next page.
  • Page Break Before. The paragraph is moved to the next page.

Any of these settings coming into play would obviously affect the distance between what is at the bottom of the page and any footer on the page.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13438) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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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Comments

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What is four more than 9?

2020-03-04 09:07:36

Cam Peneff

Fiddling with the space after paragraph setting can cause grief here as well.


2019-08-21 16:31:12

Tim Gregg

I have the same inexplicable gap above the footer text that pushes the body text up. Here is an image with 2 windows. The first has a gap, the second has no gap. There is no text in there, and no "space before". It is with Word 16.16 on Mac OS 10.13. If it's platform specific, OK, but if anyone can see something else to try, please let me know. (see Figure 1 below)
Thanks

Figure 1. With and without footer gap


2019-05-06 10:03:39

Laura

DIdn't work for me. Only affects distance between text and edge of page, not between header/footer text and body text. I'm looking high and low for a setting for that. I have one document with about half and inch of blank space below the header text but the paragraph spacing is set to zero. I have another document with the exact same settings and there is no space between the header text and the body text. Driving me crazy.


2019-04-21 14:41:29

Mark

This did not solve the problem for me.


2018-11-28 18:43:16

Chris Stoeger

Thank you for this tip. Very helpful!


2017-11-29 22:46:13

Word user #2491

You're a legend Wyatt! Total rockstar.


2016-04-11 10:16:17

Alison Miller

I must say I really love these tips. They open new possibilities for my work to look even better! Thanks so much.


2016-04-11 10:03:42

StevenVS

You can also use the "Indents and Spacing" tab on the Paragraph dialogue to increase the leading (spacing) of the paragraph in in the footer, to make the distance between the last line of text and the first line of the footer consistent. Highlight the first paragraph in the footer, open the Paragraph dialogue, and adjust the Spacing Before on the Indents and Spacing tab.


2016-04-11 10:02:27

Steven

You can also use the "Indents and Spacing" tab on the Paragraph dialogue to increase the leading (spacing) of the paragraph in in the footer, to make the distance between the last line of text and the first line of the footer consistent. Highlight the first paragraph in the footer, open the Paragraph dialogue, and adjust the Spacing Before on the Indents and Spacing tab.


2016-04-10 17:03:37

Mindy

Many thanks for the kind responses! Indeed, the reply to check Page Setup > Layout > Headers & Footers > From Edge was my solution.
You all are the greatest!


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