Change line spacing in Word 2010 + Configure default line height settings

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").


Customize paragraph line height

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.

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 (1.0)
• Press Ctrl+5 for 1.5 line spacing
• Press Ctrl+2 for double spaced lines (2.0)
• Press Ctrl+Z to undo the last change (e.g., to go back to the default 1.15)

Configure custom line spacing options

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:
Custom line spacing in Microsoft Word

To apply your new line spacing setting without changing the default, click "OK" - otherwise, read on!

Change your default line spacing settings

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.

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