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Customize the Default Line Spacing in Word 2007 & 2010

If you’ve switched to MS Word 2007 or 2010 from an earlier version, you’ll undoubtedly notice there is more space between lines of text by default. Here we’ll take a look at how to customize the line spacing in Word 2007 & 2010.

Spacing in Word 2003

In Word 2003 the default line spacing is 1.0 which might be to compressed for some users.

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Change Line Spacing in Word 2007 & 2010

In Word 2007 & 2010 Microsoft changed the default line spacing to 1.15. Which might be ok for some users because the sentences don’t seem so crammed together, but you might want to customize it.

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If you want to change the spacing of an entire document, under the Home tab in the Styles group select Change Styles then Style Set.

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Then you can hover the pointer over different Style Sets in the list, you can see how it will look with Live Preview. For example here we set it to Word 2003…

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And here is an example of the Manuscript Style Set. Hover over any of the Sets in the list and the entire document will change. Once you find one you like just click on it.

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Make a Style Set the Default

You might want to the Style Set to default to the one you choose every time you start a new document. To set it as default go to Change Styles then Set as Default.

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Here we set it to Word 2003 and anytime we start a new document, it will default to this Style Set with Spacing set to 1.0.

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Change Line Spacing in Selected Portions of Documents

If you only want to change the line spacing in select parts of a document, highlight the text to change. Then on the Ribbon in the Paragraph group click on the Line and Paragraph Spacing button.

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Then select the spacing you want. Again with Live Preview you’ll be able to hover over the different spacing options and see how it will look.

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If you select Line Spacing Options you can tweak it even more. It shows a small preview screen so you get a general idea of how it will look.

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If you want to change it back you can easily go back to the default. Just click go to Change Styles \ Style Set \ Reset Document Quick Styles.

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If you’re moving from an earlier version of Word to 2007 or 2010, you might want to change the line spacing and set it as default for all new documents. This will help you change the line spacing in specific parts of your documents as well.

Here are some other articles that will help you out if you’re moving from Office 2003 to a new version.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/10/10

Comments (17)

  1. Chris

    Very nice tip! “Live Preview” is a real time saver, rather confusing why more folk have not upgraded to Office 2007/10 already? :)

  2. David Levine

    The first thing I do when I’m dealing with a new Office 2007 install is change the line spacing to 1. I wish Microsoft would have left it alone.

  3. Jedi_B

    Any reason why the view/font looks different in Outlook 2010? it looks bigger, and no matter where i search, i can’t make it look ‘normal’.

  4. jasray

    One setting most users overlook is found on the “paragraph” screen shot. Be sure to change the Spacing | Before and After to 0 and 0. What we noticed, as here, most folks never achieve the desired spacing because of the default value which is not 0. Hope that makes sense.

  5. ed

    If you can provide a fix to delete HEADER &/or eliminate EDIT HEADER, that’ll be real progress.

  6. Steve J

    Is there anyway to adjust the line spacing in Outlook 2010 for incoming emails? We print our emails, process them, scan, shred and the 1.15 is making a one page email into two. That doubles everyones work and kills more trees.

  7. Simon B

    This article really does *NOT* solve address this issue of setting line spacing in a document. What is described here is how to change the “style” of a document and how to make this “style” the “default style”.

    What is really needed is an explanation of how to change the line spacing within a given “style” and to make that line spacing change permanent.

    In my case, our secretaries are not happy with the way the “return” key automatically produces a double line space (as for a new paragraph). They prefer to have their “normal style” use single line spacing always and this article does nothing to help resolve this problem.

  8. B H Ingram

    What a star you are…it was driving me nuts!

  9. Galleon

    You have saved me hours of annoyance. Thank you.

  10. Angela B

    I agree with Simon B – I don’t want to change the style, all I want to do is customize the line spacing without having to spend 3 hours Googling every suport & how-to site to find the answer (Lord knows I can never find it on the actual MS Support site…) Can I possibly customize my line spacing beyond the ‘set’ measurements (i.e. at 1.25)?? Everytime there’s an upgrade, it’s as if the staff at MS have nothing better to do, so they go & fix what’s NOT broken, & then tout how much better the updates are. It’s like moving the furniture around in a blind man’s house – it’s all the same stuff, you just make it more of a pain in the a** to maneuver around!

  11. David

    Here is how to make it single line spacing permanent…

    Right Click on the “Normal” Style in the toolbar

    Click “Modify”

    In the new window that pops up, click “Format” and then “Paragraph” at the lower left

    In the spacing area, change the value in After to “0” and the line spacing value to “Single” and click “OK”

    Then, when you return to the previous screen, tick “New Documents based on this Template” and then “OK”

    All new docs should then use normal styles with single line spacing…

  12. carol hall

    Oh, my I laughed when he said the Microsoft site NEVER answers any questions. Please help me. I am trying to figure out: How to make the space BETWEEN SENTENCES one space. My book is long and I need a way of going through it all at once (not touching the footnotes, however) to correct all the times I double-spaced between sentences. I am old-school and learned to type on typewriter. I tried Find “Period Space Space” and Replace with “Period Space,” however that did not work. I might add that I originally created document in Word 2007 when I now have Word 2010. It is still in “compatible form.” I am too scared to convert. I did not understand the instructions with “Wild Card.” I am a wonderful writer, but computer illiterate. Please give me baby A, B, C instructions without lingo. I am truly most sincerely grateful. Thank you very much for your kindness in helping.

  13. carol hall

    Sorry, I looked at suggestion – Word Options – Proofing – Select Autocorrect Options, then AutoCorrect tab. In the Replace column, type your two spaces; in the With column, a single space. Press OK.
    BUT I DO NOT WANT MY FOOTNOTES TO BE CORRECTED. HELP PLEASE?

  14. taz

    great! really helped me!! cheers! T

  15. joni

    I agree with Angela B. I need to know how to customize the line spacing to something between the set measurement options of 1.5 and double, (I need something closer to 1.75) In the past I have been able to do this in WORD PERFECT, but the agency I work for now requires me to use WORD, and I can’t get 25 numbered lines of text to appear on each and every page with 1.5 or double spacing set. Can anybody help?

  16. Annette

    Thanks, David. Your directions worked.

    PS-WordPerfect Rules!

  17. Big Dave

    Great notes thanks for the help – not sure why you are getting some stick as perfectly answered my questions for FREE!!

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