Line and Paragraph Spacing

About line spacing

Line spacing is the space between each line in a paragraph. Microsoft Word allows you to customize the line spacing to be single-spaced (one line high), double-spaced (two lines high), or any other amount you want. The default spacing in Word 2013 is 1.08 lines, which is slightly larger than single-spaced.

In the images below, you can compare different types of line spacing. From left to right, these images show the default line spacing, single spacing, and double spacing.

line_spacing_intro_default  line_spacing_intro_double  line_spacing_intro_single


To format line spacing:

  1. Select the text you wish to format.


  1. On the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  2. Move the mouse over the various options. A live preview of the line spacing will appear in the document. Select the line spacing you wish to use.


The line spacing will change in the document.


Fine-tuning line spacing

Your line spacing options aren't limited to the ones in the Line and Paragraph Spacing menu. To adjust the spacing with more precision, select Line Spacing Options from the menu to access the Paragraph dialog box. You'll then have a few additional options you can use to customize the spacing:

  • Exactly:
    When you choose this option, the line spacing is measured in points, just like font sizes. Generally, the spacing should be slightly larger than the font size. For example, if you're using 12-point text, you could use15-point spacing.
  • At least:
    Like the Exactly option, this option lets you choose how many points of spacing you want. However, if you have different sizes of text on the same line, the spacing will expand to fit the larger text.
  • Multiple:
    This option lets you type in the number of lines of spacing you want. For example, choosing Multiple and changing the spacing to 1.2 will make the text a little more spread out than single-spaced text. If you want the lines to be closer together, you can choose a smaller value like 0.9.


Paragraph spacing


By default, when you press the Enter key Word 2013 moves the insertion point down a little farther than one line on the page. This automatically creates space between paragraphs. Just as you can format spacing between lines in your document, you can adjust spacing before and after paragraphs. This is useful for separating paragraphs, headings, and subheadings.


To format paragraph spacing:

In our example, we'll increase the space before a paragraph to separate it from a heading. This will make our document easier to read.

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs you wish to format.


  1. On the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing command. Hover the mouse over Add Space Before Paragraph or Remove Space After Paragraph from the drop-down menu. A live preview of the paragraph spacing will appear in the document.
  2. Select the paragraph spacing you wish to use. In our example, we'll select Add Space Before Paragraph.


The paragraph spacing will change in the document.


From the drop-down menu, you can also select Line Spacing Options to open the Paragraph dialog box. From here, you can control how much space there is before and after the paragraph.


You can use Word's convenient Set as Default feature to save all of the formatting changes you've made and automatically apply them to new documents. To learn how to do this, read our article on Changing Your Default Settings in Word.