Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

You can change the format of entire paragraphs of text, such as the line spacing, justification, and indention of text. You can apply that format to selected paragraphs or to all the paragraphs in your document. This section describes the essentials for formatting your paragraphs so that your documents look the way you want them to look.


As with all the formatting commands, you can set up a paragraph format before typing the paragraph, and Word applies the format to the newly typed paragraph. In addition, you can change the format of existing paragraphs of text.

Justifying Text

Perhaps the most common way to format a paragraph is to justify it. When you justify text, you determine the text's alignment in relation to the right and left margins. Word supports these justification options:

  • Left-justification aligns (makes even) text with the left margin.

  • Center-justification centers text between the left and right margins.

  • Right-justification aligns text with the right margin.

  • Full-justification aligns text with both the left and right margins.

The simplest way to justify existing text is to click anywhere inside the paragraph that you want to justify (or select multiple paragraphs if you want to justify several) and then click the toolbar's Align Left, Center, Align Right, or Justify (for full justification) buttons. Before you start a paragraph, you can click at the left, middle, or right of an empty line of text to justify the text that you then type there.


Newspaper, magazine, and newsletter columns are usually fully justified. The text evenly aligns with the left and right margins.

Setting Margins and More

Display the Page Setup dialog box (shown in Figure 3.5), by selecting the File, Page Setup command. In addition, you can double-click the top gray area of the ruler. This dialog box enables you to control your paragraph and page margins. Enter values for your top, bottom, left, and right margins so that your text does not extend past the margin limits.


Many printers, especially laser printers, cannot print flush with the edge of the paper. Generally, one-half inch is the minimum margin size these printers allow.

Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 The Page Setup dialog box enables you to set margins, page size, and page layout.

Using Tab Settings

A tab stop controls the horizontal placement of text on a line. When you place a tab stop at a particular location on a line, Word moves the insertion point to that point when you press the Tab key. To set tab-stop values, click the Tabs command button in the Format, Paragraph dialog box to display the Tabs dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.6. The bottom line is that a tab keeps you from having to press your spacebar many times when you want to insert multiple spaces in your text. In addition, a tab is more accurate when aligning text.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 The Tabs dialog box enables you to specify multiple tab settings.

Table 3.1 describes each of the options in the Tabs dialog box. After you set tabs, press your Tab key as you enter paragraph text to move the insertion point to the next tab stop.

Table 3.1 Tabs Dialog Box Options



Tab Stop Position

Enables you to enter individual measurement values, such as .25" to represent one-fourth of an inch. After you type a value, press Set to add that value to the list of tab settings. To clear a tab stop, select the value and click Clear. Click Clear All to clear the entire tab list.



Left-aligns text at the tab stop (the default).


Centers text at the tab stop.


Right-aligns text at the tab stop.


Aligns lists of numbers so that their decimal points align with each other.


Inserts a vertical bar at the tab stop.



Removes leader characters. A leader is a character that provides a path for the eye to follow across the page within a tab stop. By default, Word displays nothing (blanks only) for tab areas.


Displays a series of periods inside the tabs (often used for connecting goods to their corresponding prices in a price list).


Displays a series of hyphens between the tabs.


Displays a series of underlines between the tabs.


Later in this hour, the section titled "Making the Ruler Work for You" explains how to use the ruler to set and adjust tab settings.

Setting Indentation and Spacing

If you need to change indentation (the space between the page margin and where the text aligns) or line spacing (the amount of blank space between lines), select Format, Paragraph to display the Paragraph dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.7.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 The Paragraph dialog box holds indentation and spacing values.

You can type a Left or Right indentation value or click the arrows to change the current values. A Left indention value indents not only the first line of a paragraph but also the entire paragraph's left margin. A Right indention value indents from the right. You can set off a particular paragraph from surrounding paragraphs, such as a quoted paragraph, by indenting the paragraph by specifying either a Left, Right, or Full (using both) indention value. As you change the indentation, Word updates the Preview area at the bottom of the Paragraph dialog box to show your setting results.


Do not use the spacebar to indent text on multiple lines because the text will not align properly. Use tab stops to ensure that text aligns at the tab.

You can determine how indentation applies itself to the paragraph by clicking the Special drop-down list arrow and then choosing (none), First Line, or Hanging. If you leave (none) selected, Word indents the complete paragraph by the Left and Right indentation values that you supply. If you select First Line, Word uses the value in the By field to indent only the first line of the selected paragraph. If you select Hanging, Word indents all the lines of the paragraph except the first line.


If you indent the first line or apply a hanging indent, your Left and Right indentation values still apply to the entire paragraph. The First Line and Hanging Indent values specify the additional indenting you want Word to perform on the first or subsequent paragraph lines.

The Spacing section enables you to specify exactly how many points you want Word to skip before or after each paragraph. You can also request that Word double-space, triple-space, and perform other multispacing options by changing the value under Line Spacing.


Increase or decrease a paragraph's indentation by clicking the Decrease Indent and Increase Indent buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Making the Ruler Work for You

As you specify indentation and tab information, the ruler updates to indicate your settings. Not only does the ruler show settings, but you can also make indentation and tab changes directly on the ruler without using dialog boxes.

Figure 3.8 shows the ruler's various tab stops and indentation markers. Click anywhere on the ruler to add a tab stop after you select the appropriate tab from the tab selection area. To remove a tab, drag the tab stop off the ruler into the document area before releasing the mouse. By dragging an indentation handle, you can change a paragraph's indentation on-the-fly.


You can double-click the gray bar across the top of the ruler to display the Page Setup dialog box.

Inserting Line and Page Breaks

Lines and pages do not always break the way you need them to because they break according to Word's default. For example, you might want to end a page early because you want to insert a chart at the top of the next page or start a new chapter. Or perhaps you want to put a sentence on a line by itself to make it stand out from the surrounding text. The Format, Paragraph dialog box's Line and Page Breaks page enables you to control the way your document's lines and pages start and stop. When you click the Paragraph dialog box's Line and Page Breaks tab, Word displays the settings shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 Use the ruler to set and change tabs and indents.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 Control the way your paragraph lines break.

Here's a quick run-through of the options: A widow is the last line of a paragraph that prints at the top of the next page, and an orphan is the first line of a paragraph that prints at the bottom of a page. Usually, widowed and orphaned lines look incomplete. If you click the Widow/Orphan control option, Word adjusts page breaks, if necessary, so that two or more paragraph lines always begin a page and so that two or more paragraph lines always end a page.

The Keep Lines Together check box ensures that a page break never splits the selected paragraph. The Keep with Next check box ensures that a page break never appears between the current paragraph and the next. The Page Break Before check box forces a page break before the selected paragraph even if a page break would not normally appear for several more lines.

By enabling the Suppress Line Numbers check box, law pleadings and other documents with line numbers will not print the numbers on the selected paragraph lines. If you have set up automatic hyphenation, the Don't Hyphenate option deactivates automatic hyphenation for the selected paragraph.

Viewing Your Document's Formatting

You can view the existing format on text that you've already typed. Click anywhere within a paragraph and press Shift+F1. The mouse pointer changes to a question mark. When you click over text, Word displays all the information about that selected text, including the character and paragraph formatting, inside the Reveal Format task pane. This feature is neat! (Figure 3.10 shows an example.) To get rid of the formatting description, click the task pane's Close button.

Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 You can find out a lot about formats!

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020