Software

Change Word's default line spacing to what you want it to be

Word 2007 and 2010's line spacing default isn't the same as it was in 2003. Here's how to change it to what you want it to be.

When you upgrade to Word 2007 or 2010, you might notice that the line spacing is just a tad roomier. That's because the default line spacing setting in ribbon versions is 1.15, not 1, as it was in 2003. If you haven't noticed, go ahead and check it out: on the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing option in the Paragraph group. It probably shows 1.15 checked. (If not, you might be working with an alternated template.)

The official word from Word is that 1.15 generates more readable online documents-there's a huge push from Microsoft to use the new collaborative features. If this option doesn't suit your needs, you're not stuck. You can turn by the clock, so to speak, and have all Word 2007 or 2010 documents use 1, instead of 1.15. Just complete the following steps to do so:

  1. Click the Home tab.
  2. In the Styles group, click Change Styles and choose Style Set.
  3. Choose Word 2003.
  4. To make this setting the default, choose Set As Default from the Change Styles dropdown.

Oh, that was a bit too easy, wasn't it? The truth is, this option will change more than just line spacing. For example, Word 2003 doesn't automatically insert a blank line between paragraphs, but Word 2007 and 2010 do. If you want the complete package, the solution above is the easiest route. If you just want to change the line spacing, it isn't the best choice.

Perhaps the easiest way to change the default line spacing is to adjust the style(s) you use. For instance, if you use Normal the most, change the line spacing in Normal, as follows:

  1. Click the Home tab.
  2. Right-click Normal in the Styles Quick gallery and choose Modify.
  3. Choose Paragraph from the Format list.
  4. In the Spacing section, change the At setting from 1.15 to 1.
  5. Click OK.
  6. The default is to change just the current document. If you want this change saved at the template level-meaning, all new documents will reflect this change-click the New Documents Based On This Template option at the bottom of the dialog box.
  7. Click OK.

Make this change carefully because Word will also change all styles based on Normal. That may or may not be what you want.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

9 comments
spiessa46
spiessa46

OK, Ctrl + P lets you print, but what about a shortcut for Print Preview? You should always view your document, especially spreadsheets before printing. I do like, however, the quick way to modify the paragraph or other settings by way of right-clicking the icons in the Quick Styles gallery.

CrimsonAvenger
CrimsonAvenger

While many people complained about the ribbon and how the new way of interacting with Office was awful, this was the single biggest irritating thing about Word 2007 for me. It did take a while to work out how to get it permanently set up - enabling the Word 2003 option seemed to bring about other problems. As the years go on and clicking the help button in Office products gets ever more pointless, we are left to work things like this out on our own. It is reassuring to know there are more reliable sources of help out there.

Mark.Mathews
Mark.Mathews

Thanks. This is why I'm a member of techrepublic.

spiras
spiras

In Outlook 2007, whenever I hit "Reply" to an e-mail, I get a default line spacing of 1 and have to manually adjust it to my preferred spacing of 1.5 (I do this by pressing Ctrl+5). Is there any way to have this spacing as default? I have tried changing the default settings of Replies, to no avail.

carolteach4
carolteach4

I teach middle school, and the extra spacing in the default template is often annoying, especially when students are creating bulleted lists. I tell the students that as soon as they open the new document, they should click on the Home tab and then, above "styles" click on "no spacing" and then save the document right away. Of course, if they insert a text box, they also have to remember to choose "no spacing" style for that, as well. Hence, the students get to determine the spacing they want instead of Microsoft Office determining it for them.

tommy
tommy

Good tip, Susan. The wonders of MS upgrade paths never ceases to amaze. I wonder who uses such a huge line spacing as is defined in MS Word 2010 by default? Another thing that always makes me giggle - it's a great ice breaker in a training session - is the question "Now that you've finished you're letter, what do you want to do next?", to which the answer is 'Print it'. Of course, by default, there is no obvious print button, which gets most of my students scratching their heads. Three mouse clicks to print the thing. DOH! Of course it's a great way to introduce the Quick Access Toolbar. How thoughtful of MS to provide this training segue for me. ~rolls eyes~

0.512864409987
0.512864409987

Ctr + P keeps your fingers on the keyboard and allows you to print quickly while still being able to change the print settings if need be.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Or for moving to an open source solution: Those two extra mouse clicks to print. Of course, if you know the keyboard shortcuts, it's not an issue. I expect some future version of Windows or MSO will eliminate keyboard shortcuts.

Niunio
Niunio

Eliminating keyboard shortcuts would be the most stupid think MSoft would do. Great tip!

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