The Paragraph Dialog Box

Many of the paragraph formatting options described in the previous sections and additional paragraph formatting options are available in the Paragraph dialog box, which has two tabs.

  • Indents and Spacing
  • Line and Page Breaks

Before opening the Paragraph dialog box, place your cursor anywhere within a single paragraph that you want to format or select the multiple paragraphs that you want to format. To open the Paragraph dialog box, on the Home tab or on the Page Layout tab, at the bottom of the Paragraph group, click the Paragraph dialog box launcher (dialog box launcher).

When you click OK in the Paragraph dialog box or press Enter, any changes that you have made on either tab will be applied to the single paragraph where you cursor was located or to the paragraphs that you selected.

The paragraph formatting options that are available on the Indents and Spacing tab of the Paragraph dialog box are divided among the General, Indentation, and Spacing groups.

Indents and Spacing tab

These paragraph formatting options are described in the next subsections.

Alignment

Alignment or justification refers to the way in which the lines of a paragraph are aligned. There are four types of alignment, namely, left, center, right, and justified, and they have been described above in detail in The Paragraph Group.

Indentation

The value in the Before text box specifies the width of the additional empty space that is inserted between the margin and the text on the left-hand side of a paragraph of left-to-right text, and the value in the After text box specifies the width of the additional empty space that is inserted between the text and the margin on the right-hand side of a paragraph of left-to-right text. A negative value specifies the distance by which the text extends beyond the respective margin.

Two types of special indentation can be specified in the Special box.

  • If you choose First line, you can set the amount of additional indentation before the text on the first line of a paragraph or multiple paragraphs in the By box.
  • If you choose Hanging, you can create a hanging indent. In this case you can set the additional indentation before the text for all the lines except the first in the By box. If you want a part of the text on the first line to be aligned with the other lines in the paragraph, set the value in the By box equal to the first tab stop or set the first tab stop equal to the value in the By box and insert a tab character in the first line before the text to be aligned.

Spacing

The spacing between two paragraphs is determined by the spacing before one paragraph and the spacing after the preceding paragraph, which are displayed and can be modified in the Before and After boxes.

Note. When the first of two consecutive paragraphs has non-zero spacing after it and the second paragraph has non-zero spacing before it, only the larger of the two spaces will be inserted between the paragraphs.

Line spacing refers to the vertical distance between the lines within a paragraph and determines the location of each line relative to the line above it. The following types of line spacing can be specified in the Line spacing box.

  • Single
  • 1.5 lines
  • Double
  • At least. When this option is selected, an exact distance in points, where a point (pt) is equal to 1/72 of an inch, is specified in the At box.
  • Exact. When this option is selected, an exact distance in points, where a point (pt) is equal to 1/72 of an inch, is specified in the At box.
  • Multiple. When this option is selected, a number that indicates a multiple of single spacing (for example, 2.0 is equivalent to double spacing), is specified in the At box.

Line and Page Breaks Tab

The paragraph formatting options that you can configure on the Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog box can help you control where automatic page breaks occur in your document.

Line and Page Breaks tab

 

These paragraph formatting options include the following.

  • Widow/orphan control. A widow is the last line of text in a paragraph with two or more lines that appears alone on the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of text in a paragraph with two or more lines that appears alone at the bottom of a page. When the Widow/orphan control option is selected for a paragraph, Word will break the paragraph at the end of a page only if it contains four or more lines and only if there is room for at least two lines at the bottom of the page before the break and there is room for at least two lines at the top of the page after the break.
  • Keep with next. When this option is selected for a paragraph, the paragraph and the next paragraph will be on the same page, and no page break will occur between them unless a manual page break is inserted between them or the Page break before option is selected for the next paragraph.
  • Keep lines together. When this option is selected for a paragraph, all the lines in the paragraph will remain on the same page unless the paragraph cannot fit on a single page. If there is not sufficient space for the whole paragraph on the page containing the preceding paragraph, the paragraph will start at the top of the next page.
  • Page break before. When this option is selected for a paragraph, the paragraph will be located at the top of the page following the preceding paragraph. In many situations, it is preferable to use this option to force a page break before a specific paragraph and not to insert a manual page break.

Repeat a paragraph formatting action

To repeat something simple, such as a paste operation, press Ctrl+Y or F4 (If F4 doesn’t seem to work, you may need to press the F-Lock key or Fn Key, then F4).

If you prefer to use the mouse, click Repeat on the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Repeat command on the Quick Access Toolbar

Use the Format Painter

Copying and pasting content in Word documents is a common task. However, you can also copy and paste formatting from one block of text (including images) to another. This can be handy if you want to apply the same formatting to multiple areas in your document.

NOTE: We used Word 2013 to illustrate this feature.

To copy the formatting from a block of text and/or images, highlight the content.

NOTE: To copy both text and paragraph formatting, select an entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark. To make this easier, you can show paragraph marks by showing non-printing characters.

In the “Clipboard” section of the “Home” tab, click “Format Painter.”

The cursor changes to a paint brush. Select the text to which you want to copy the formatting. When you release the mouse button, the formatting is copied to the selected text, as shown in the image at the beginning of this article.

To copy formatting to multiple blocks of text and/or images, double-click the “Format Painter” button. Then, you can apply that formatting to other areas of your document. To stop copying formatting, click the “Format Painter” button once more or press the “Esc” key.

NOTE: For copying formatting from graphics, the “Format Painter” tool works best with drawing objects, such as AutoShapes. However, you can also copy formatting from an inserted picture (such as the picture’s border).