How to Change Paragraph Line Spacing in Microsoft Word

By Faithe Wempen

You’re probably familiar with the terms single spacing (one line of space between every line of type) and double spacing (two lines). In Microsoft Word, the Spacing feature lets you fine-tune the spacing between lines to any precise amount you want.

Three settings in Word control line spacing:

  • Before: The space before each paragraph

  • After: The space after each paragraph

  • Line Spacing: The space between the lines of each paragraph

In Word 2010, the default settings are to use no spacing Before or After, and a line spacing of Single.

For basic spacing, you can use the Line Spacing button’s drop-down list on the Home tab. The numbers at the top of the list refer to line spacing between the lines of paragraphs; the commands at the bottom of the list add or remove spacing before or after the paragraphs. You can also set the Before and After values on the Page Layout tab.


If those adjustments still doesn’t meet your line spacing needs, you can open the Paragraph dialog box (click the little icon in the bottom-right corner of the Paragraph group, on either the Home or the Page Layout tab) and set specific values for spacing there. You can enter Before and After values. In the Line Spacing area, you select a unit of measurement from the drop-down list, and then enter a value.