What is the difference between line and paragraph spacing in Word?

If you’ve taken the time to look over a piece of literature or documentation, you’ve undoubtedly experienced lines- lines of words used in conjunction to form paragraphs. In Word, lines and paragraphs have a small amount of whitespace. The size of this whitespace can be made larger or smaller with lines and paragraphs alike.

In Microsoft Word, line spacing refers to the size of the gap between lines of text, and paragraph spacing refers to the size of the gap between pargraphs.

In this post, I plan on explaining the differences between line spacing and paragraph spacing. First, I’ll cover the methods used to alter line spacing and paragraph spacing, followed by the differences in how we can change them.

Contents:

How to change line spacing in Word

How line spacing works

When you write up lines in your document, you’ll be able to observe the whitespace gap that occurs between each line. This whitespace gap intends to aid readability by preventing each line from being too close to or too far from one another to distinguish two lines from two paragraphs.

Step 1 – Open up your Word document

To edit line spacing, you require an open document, and this will also help ensure your changes have taken effect and look as intended.

Step 2 – Access the paragraph settings menu

You can access the paragraph settings menu via the “Home” tab underneath the “Paragraph” category. In addition, we can adjust layout settings such as indentation and spacing from the menu.

Step 3 – Configure line spacing options

Under “Spacing,” you can find the “Line spacing” label next to the box labeled “At.” By default, line spacing is “Single.” However, We can set it to a series of different “Line spacing” options. By clicking the dropdown, you can enable a preset spacing option and preview its effect; I recommend using the “Exactly” option, with which you can specify the exact pixel size of your whitespace for lines in the “At” box.

How to change paragraph spacing in Word

How paragraph spacing works

Paragraphs in Word have whitespace above and below them- usually more extensive than a line’s. By default, the whitespace sizes are automatic but manually altered within the paragraph settings menu. It’s possible to configure both individual paragraphs or all within the document.

Step 1 – Open up your Word document

To edit paragraph spacing, you require an open document, and this will also help ensure your changes have taken effect and look as intended.

Step 2 – Access the paragraph settings menu

You can access the paragraph settings menu via the “Home” tab underneath the “Paragraph” category. In addition, we can adjust layout settings such as indentation and spacing from the menu.

Step 3 – Configure the paragraph settings

Using the paragraph settings menu, you can manually alter the “Before” and “After” whitespace prompts under “Spacing.” You can additionally use the “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style” option to prevent whitespace from being generated between paragraphs of similar layouts. Replacing “Auto” with a numeric value for the “Before” box will prompt the whitespace before your paragraphs to match that value in size. The “After” box will do the same for whitespace below your paragraph.

Line spacing versus paragraph spacing in Word

Word allows us to change the whitespace size between lines in our documents; this is also the case for paragraphs. However, some minor differences exist.

Line spacingParagraph spacing
Line spacing manipulates the whitespace size between lines in a document.Paragraph spacing influences the whitespace size before and after the paragraph.
Line spacing changes take effect across your entire document.You can apply paragraph spacing changes to an individual paragraph or paragraphs across a whole document.
You can make line spacing changes via presets.Paragraph spacing changes are either automated or set via a manual value.
Line spacing changes take effect above and below each line.Paragraph spacing above and below the paragraph can differ.

Recap & Farewell

Recap

Paragraphs serve as organized text blocks, consisting of one or several lines- this is true in both standard literature and documents in Word. By utilizing the layout customization options made available to users by Microsoft. Whitespace between lines can be set to multiple presets or applied a user-given value via the “Exactly” option. Alternatively, you can configure paragraph spacing, both for individual paragraphs or every paragraph in your document. Paragraph spacing, unlike line spacing, operates via two values, one to determine the whitespace size before a paragraph and another to choose the whitespace size after a paragraph.

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Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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