Whenever you type some text in a Word 2010 document, it will by default have a "
1.15" line spacing value (also known as "line height"), which means that 1.15 times the current font size will be used to display a line of text: the smaller the multiple (minimum being 1), the more "tight" your text looks. This measures the total height of the line, including space above and below the previous and next lines (this works in conjunction with "paragraph spacing", for example, which controls how much white space appears before and after each paragraph). The paragraph you are reading right now has a line spacing of 1.3 - 30% of the line height is taken by white space, which helps long paragraphs "breath", and become a bit more friendly to readers' eyes! In this tutorial, we will show you how to change the line spacing as multiples of the current font size, or set it to a fixed unit - and which solution is typically best, and for which purpose.
FYI: in Word 2010 and Word 2007, the default line spacing is
1.15, with a default paragraph spacing of
10 points after. In Word 2003, however, the defaults were
1.0 line spacing, and no default spacing after each paragraph (more "compact").
If needed, start by opening a blank document in Word 2010 (press the Ctrl+N keyboard shortcut if you have another document opened, we'll try out line spacing options on a test document). Once you have the blank document opened in front of you, type "=rand()" and hit Enter: this is a special command in Microsoft Word that allows you to generate random text for testing purposes. As soon as you do, you will have three generic paragraphs on which to test various line spacing settings.
1.15" by default in Word 2010 and Word 2007). Before you even make a choice, move your mouse pointer above each of the options, and Word will give you a real time preview of the new line spacing: this will not change anything to your document until you actually click on a given value in the menu. To summarize your line height choices:
1.0" means no extra space between lines, as was the case in Word 2003.
1.15" is the default line spacing setting, and "just looks right"!
1.5" means that 50% of the text height will be used as vertical white space (1.5 times the current text size with the selected font family).
2.0" is the famous "double space", or twice the height of text at the current font size, and is a common requirement for college papers and other publications following MLA guidelines.
2.5" and "
3.0" will bring in more white space than text into your document!
Tip: because changing line spacing is such a common task, Word 2010 includes a few keyboard shortcuts worth remembering, which allow you to change setting on-the-fly, without releasing your hands from the keyboard! By default, the command applies on the current block of text (paragraph or other) - to make it apply to more than the current unit of text, select as appropriate, and then:
• Press Ctrl+1 for single line spacing (
• Press Ctrl+5 for 1.5 line spacing
• Press Ctrl+2 for double spaced lines (
• Press Ctrl+Z to undo the last change (e.g., to go back to the default
These common line spacing settings are just a couple of clicks away; but if you want to use a custom setting for your line height, click on "Line Spacing Options" in that same menu:
1.0", no line spacing at all (like Word 2003).
1.5", discussed earlier.
2.0", following MLA guidelines.
pt" unit abbreviation from the field). Once you enter a line spacing value in points, Word 2010 will ensure that your lines have at least that amount of vertical spacing between them: if, however, you insert a graphic (chart or picture, for example), or use a larger text size somewhere in the paragraph, Word will accommodate by elastically expanding the line spacing as needed - contrast this behavior with the next line spacing option:
To apply your new line spacing setting without changing the default, click "OK" - otherwise, read on!
Once you have created a custom line spacing setting as explained above, you can make it the default line height for new Word 2010 documents. Be careful that any other change you have made inside the Paragraph dialog will also be picked up to become the default, not just line spacing. To apply your new options as the default for new documents, click on the "Set As Default" button at the bottom.