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Change the Space Before and After Paragraphs

Extra space between paragraphs makes a document easier to read. By default, Word 2007 and above places a bit more space between paragraphs than it does between lines in a paragraph.
Many users of earlier versions of Word created space between paragraphs by pressing the Enter key. This method is not as precise as defining the amount of space. In addition, defining the space has the following advantages:

  • You can save your space settings in a style and apply the settings to other paragraphs.
  • If you move a paragraph, the Spacing Before and Spacing After settings move with it.
  • When you print, Word ignores the Spacing Before setting for the first paragraph on the page. This keeps your top margins uniform.
  • When you use the Enter key to create space, Word bases the amount of space between paragraphs on the size of the font. If your font size varies from paragraph to paragraph, the space between paragraphs will vary too.

Spacing is measured in points. There are 72 points per inch. Use the Spacing Before and Spacing After fields on the Page Layout tab to change the spacing between selected paragraphs. Use the Paragraph Spacing option on the Design tab to change the default spacing between paragraphs.

Add Space Before and/or After Paragraphs

  1. Place the insertion point in the paragraph you want to change, or select the paragraphs you want to change.
  2. Choose the Page Layout tab. The current spacing appears in the Spacing Before and Spacing After fields.
  3. Enter the amount of space you want to appear before the paragraph in the Spacing Before field. Word sets the spacing to the amount you entered.
  4. Enter the amount of space you want to appear after the paragraph in the Spacing After field. Word sets the spacing to the amount you entered.

Note

You can also use the Paragraph dialog box to set the space before and the space after paragraphs. 1) Select the paragraphs you want to change. 2) Choose the Home tab or the Page Layout tab. 3) Click the dialog box launcher in the Paragraph group. The Paragraph dialog box opens. 4) Choose the Indents and Spacing tab. 5) Enter the amount of space you want to appear before the paragraph in the Spacing Before field. 6) Enter the amount of space you want to appear after the paragraph in the Spacing After field. 7) Click OK. Word sets the spacing to the amount you entered.

Tip

If you do not want space between paragraphs that have the same style, check the Don’t Add Space Between Paragraphs of the Same Style box in the Paragraph dialog box. This option is most frequently used when working with lists.

Is there a quick way to adjust the space before and the space after a paragraph?

If you click the Line and Paragraph Spacing button in the Paragraph group on the Home tab, depending on the current Spacing Before and Spacing After settings, two of the following options will be available: Add Space Before Paragraph, Add Space After Paragraph, Remove Space Before Paragraph, or Remove Space After Paragraph. Click the option you want.

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