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Microsoft Word 2003

Paragraph Formatting Options

This document will help you to use paragraph formatting options to achieve the desired look for your document.

return to topChanging Paragraph Alignment

Text alignment, margins, and line spacing will affect the entire paragraph even if you have only a single word selected or the insertion point placed in the paragraph. To format multiple paragraphs, you need to select at least one character from each paragraph. You can align text with the right or left margins, center the text, or align the text with both margins.

Changing Text Alignment: Toolbar Option

  1. Select the text to be formatted

  2. On the Formatting toolbar, click the appropriate button:
    Formatting buttons (Alignment)

Changing Text Alignment: Menu Option

  1. Select the text to be formatted

  2. From the Format menu, select Paragraph...
    The Paragraph dialog box appears.
    Paragraph dialog box - portion of Indents-Spacing tab

  3. Select the Indents and Spacing tab

  4. From the Alignment pull-down list, select Left, Centered, Right, or Justified

  5. Click OK

Changing Text Alignment: Keyboard Option

  1. Select the text to be formatted

  2. Press the appropriate keyboard key:

    Alignment Option Keystroke
    Left [Ctrl] + [L]
    Centered [Ctrl] + [E]
    Right [Ctrl] + [R]
    Justified [Ctrl] + [J]

return to topAdjusting Line Spacing

You can add space between lines within a paragraph by adjusting the line spacing. For example, you may want your text double-spaced. This is an efficient way of adding white space.

  1. Place the insertion point in the desired paragraph

  2. From the Format menu, select Paragraph…
    The Paragraph dialog box appears.
    Paragraph dialog box

  3. Select the Indents and Spacing tab

  4. In the Spacing section, from the Line spacing pull-down list, select the desired spacing option
    Options include Single, 1.5 lines, Double, At least, Exactly, and Multiple.
    NOTE: The At least, Exactly, and Multiple options require that you enter the amount of space between lines in the At text box.

  5. Click OK

return to topAdjusting Paragraph Spacing

Instead of putting extra returns at the end of paragraphs, add additional space before and after paragraphs by adjusting the paragraph spacing. This can be especially useful when you want the blank line to be a different height from the text.

  1. Place the insertion point in the desired paragraph

  2. From the Format menu, select Paragraph...
    The Paragraph dialog box appears.

  3. Select the Indents and Spacing tab

  4. In the Spacing section, in the Before text box, type the amount of space (in points) to appear before the paragraph

  5. In the After text box, type the amount of space (in points) to appear after the paragraph

  6. Click OK

return to topWorking with Indents

Rather than tabbing in the first line or every line of a paragraph, you can create an indent, which is the amount of space between the text and the page margin. You can adjust the indent for an individual paragraph, the indent for a group of paragraphs, or the margins for the entire document. If you are setting margins for the entire document, refer to Adjusting Document Margins.

Word offers three types of indents: normal indents, first line indents, and hanging indents. A normal indent inserts a specified amount of space between the page margin and all the lines in a paragraph. A first line indent inserts space between the first line and the page margin so it looks like you used a tab. A hanging indent uses a normal indent for the first line and then moves subsequent lines farther to the right.

Sample: hanging indent

Paragraph indents can be set using the Paragraph dialog box or the Ruler.

Working with Indents: Dialog Box Option

  1. Place the insertion point in the desired paragraph
    HINT: If you are adjusting more than one paragraph, select all desired paragraphs.

  2. From the Format menu, select Paragraph…
    The Paragraph dialog box appears.

  3. Select the Indents and Spacing tab

  4. In the Indentation section, in the Left and Right text boxes, type the desired amount of indenting (in inches)

  5. To select a different indent for the first line, from the Special pull-down list, select First line or Hanging

  6. If you selected a first line or hanging indent, in the By text box, type the desired amount of indenting (in inches)

  7. Click OK

Working with Indents: Ruler Option

Instead of using the Paragraph dialog box, you can make indent adjustments using the Ruler. Shown here is a graphic of the Ruler.

Ruler Indent

Type of Indent Appearance of Ruler Appearance of Text
Normal Indent Normal Indent A Normal Indent
looks like this
Hanging Indent Hanging Indent A Hanging Indent
     looks like this
First Line Indent First Line indent     A First Line Indent
looks like this

To set the indent:

  1. Place the insertion point in the desired paragraph
    HINT: If you are adjusting more than one paragraph, select all desired paragraphs.

  2. Click and drag the appropriate indent button to the desired location on the Ruler

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