13 Apply Paragraph Formatting
Before You Begin
Apply Character Formatting
Set Up Page Formatting
You can change the format of entire paragraphs of text, such as the line spacing, justification, and indentation of text. You can apply that format to selected paragraphs or to all the paragraphs in your document.
One of the most common ways to format a paragraph is to justify it. Word supports these justification options:
Left justification—Aligns (makes even) text with the left margin. Personal and business letters are often left-justified. The right margin is ragged.
Center justification—Centers text between the left and right margins. Titles and letterheads are often centered atop a document.
Right justification—Aligns text with the right margin, and the left margin’s text is not ragged.
Full justification—Aligns text with both the left and the right margins. Newspaper and magazine columns are usually fully justified; the text aligns with the left and right margins evenly.
Word provides many additional ways to format your paragraphs, such as the capability to put a border around them and indent the first lines.
Select the Text
Select the text you want to format. As About Paragraph Breaks and Tabs explains, Word considers all text up to the next nonprinting paragraph symbol to be one paragraph. If you apply a paragraph format to any part of a paragraph, the entire paragraph changes to reflect the new format. You can format multiple paragraphs at once by selecting multiple paragraphs before changing the format.
Change the Justification
After you’ve selected the text you want to format, you may change the paragraph’s justification by clicking the Align Left, Center, Align Right, or Justify button on the Home ribbon. As soon as you click the button, Word changes the selected paragraph’s justification to reflect the change.
Change the Indentation
If you want to indent the entire selected paragraph to the right, click the Home ribbon’s Increase Indent button. For each click of the Increase Indent button, the paragraph shifts to the right one-half inch. After you indent using the Increase Indent button, the Decrease Indent button appears so that you can move the indentation back half an inch. (Of course, your Quick Access toolbar’s Undo button also undoes any indentations you make.)
Select a First-Line Indent
Drag the ruler’s First Line Indent button to the right to indent only the first line of the selected paragraphs. Adding a first-line indent ensures that your paragraphs have their initial lines indented to the right without your having to press Tab manually each time you begin a new paragraph.
Use the Paragraph Dialog Box
All of Word’s paragraph-formatting commands are available from the Paragraph dialog box. Click the arrow in the lower-right corner of the ribbon’s Paragraph section to display the Paragraph dialog box.
The Paragraph dialog box’s Indents and Spacing page enables you to set precise indents as well as specify alignment and the amount of blank space that is to appear between your paragraphs.
The Line and Page Breaks page enables you to set automatic hyphenation so that Word can insert hyphens as needed to make long words wrap better at the end of a line. In addition, you can control how a page begins and ends by specifying whether you want a page break to occur in the middle of a paragraph or before.
Add a Border
Click the right arrow to the right of the Bottom Border button to display your border options. Click one of the options to add a border around your selected text.
Word offers several kinds of borders. You can display a border around a paragraph (useful to call attention to important text), as well as put a border on two sides or only one side of selected text.
When you select Borders and Shading from the drop-down list, Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box from which you control all aspects of bordering, including the border’s width and color. Click the Shading tab to add shading inside the bordered text. Your shading can be a color or a shade of gray, and you can adjust how light or dark the shading appears.
The Page Border tab enables you to add a border around your entire page instead of putting the border around selected text only.
Review the Border
After you’ve set up a bordered paragraph, click OK to close the Paragraph dialog box and review the bordered paragraph to ensure that you’ve got the right effect. Remember to reserve your use of borders, shadowing, and the other special effects for those times when you want to emphasize a title or a statement. Don’t overdo the use of special formats. Your document can look too busy with too many formats, making it difficult to read.