Styles for more than formatting text in Microsoft Word

Paragraph styles can be used for much more than formatting text. With paragraph styles we can format line spacing, paragraph indents, and text alignment, to list a few. In this example, we’ll change the formatting of the paragraph to include a first line indent and additional spacing after each paragraph.

We’ll place the cursor anywhere on the paragraph we want to use. Paragraph formatting is applied to a complete paragraph so we don’t need to select text.

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To indent our paragraphs we’ll click on the line spacing button in the Home tab. Select the last option, “line spacing options”.

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The indents and spacing settings control panel will open. To indent our paragraph, we need to adjust the before text option. We’ll set this to .2 inches.

Why only .2 inches? If you remember back a long time ago we were taught to indent paragraphs one inch, and then some of us were taught to indent one tab on typewriters. Typewriters are computers with no memory, storage or internet connection. Word processors use a technology called proportional fonts so we don’t need to have such large indents. Indents should be the equivalent of two spaces, which in this case is approximately .2 inches.

Click the OK button to save the paragraph indention setting.

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With our paragraph properly indented, we need to update the normal paragraph style. Right click on the normal style and select “update to match selection”.

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This is how we format indented paragraphs. To use block paragraphs we need to format them differently. Using the same paragraph, we’ll return to the line spacing options.

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Return the indent option to zero.

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Go to the spacing section and click once on the up arrow to increase the spacing by 6 points. If you don’t think this is enough spacing between paragraphs, increase it to 12 points. Click the Ok button to save the changes.

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Update the normal style and our block paragraphs will now have the additional spacing required between paragraphs.

We can continue to update the style as needed with any formatting options available for text.

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