Word 2013: Line and Paragraph Spacing

Lesson 12: Line and Paragraph Spacing



As you design your document and make formatting decisions, you will need to consider line and paragraph spacing. You can increase spacing to improve readability or reduce it to fit more text on the page.

Optional: Download our practice document.

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.

Screenshot of Word 2013Default spacing
Screenshot of Word 2013Single-spaced text
Screenshot of Word 2013Double-spaced text

Line spacing is also known as leading (pronounced to rhyme with wedding).

To format line spacing:

  1. Select the text you want to format.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting text to format
  2. On the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. Move the mouse over the various options. A live preview of the line spacing will appear in the document. Select the line spacing you want to use.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Modifying the line spacing
  4. The line spacing will change in the document.

    Screenshot of Word 2013The new line spacing

Fine tuning line spacing

Your line spacing options aren't limited to the ones in the Line and Paragraph Spacing menu. To adjust 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 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 use 15-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 the number of lines of spacing you want. For example, choosing Multiple and changing the spacing to 1.2 will make the text slightly 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.
Screenshot of Word 2013Setting the line spacing to Exactly 15 points

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 want to format.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting a paragraph to format
  2. 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.
  3. Select the paragraph spacing you want to use. In our example, we'll select Add Space Before Paragraph.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Adding space before a paragraph
  4. The paragraph spacing will change in the document.

    Screenshot of Word 2013The new paragraph spacing

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.

Screenshot of Word 2013Adjusting the spacing before and after paragraphs

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.


  1. Open an existing Word 2013 document. If you want, you can use our practice document.
  2. Change the line spacing of some text. If you're using the example, change the line spacing of the paragraph in the Summary section so it is single spaced.
  3. Change the paragraph spacing between two paragraphs. If you're using the example, add paragraph spacing after each paragraph in the Experience section.
  4. If you are using the example, change the line and paragraph spacing so the entire resume fits on one page.