Saturday, June 08, 2013

Microsoft Word tips for Authors: Indentation and Space Between Paragraphs

First line indentation and space between paragraphs.

In my role as Employment Consultant, on a daily basis I need to fix up a lot of client resumes; and one thing I have consistently found is that too many people use their word processor as if they were using a typewriter, that is manually inserting space in order to achieve a desired structural look rather than use features contained within the program that achieves it for them quicker, easier and applied more consistently.

Logically, I feel it is safe for me to assume that if such a high percentage of my clients consistently make this same mistake in trying to replicate how a document should be appear rather than using features to achieve it because they don't the feature exists or how to use it, then other users of Microsoft are possibly making the same operating mistakes in manually trying to produce documents as that of my clients.

So today, I am going to show writers and author’s how they can format a Word document to indent the first line of every new paragraph – which makes the text easier to read.

You will need to open up either a blank document, or an existing text based document.  

For a blank document, press Control + A to highlight the entire document, and then apply the changes.  
For an existing document, if you want to apply the changes to the entire document, then you can press Control + A to highlight the entire document too, and apply the changes in the same way as you can for a blank document.  
If you only want to make changes to certain paragraphs only, then only highlight the paragraphs with which you are going to apply the changes.
  1. Press Control + A to highlight All (already done)
  2. Move your mouse to the Paragraph options section on the Home tab ribbon.
  3. Click on the X button which will bring up the Paragraph options menu (I don't know what this button is called, so I am calling it X button for this tutorial).

  4. Click on Line Spacing Options...

  5. Click on the Special drop down arrow box under Indentation Options (currently displaying ‘None’)

  6. Click on First line. 
  7. The ‘By’ section under Indentation Options will change to show 1.27 cm which is the current default setting for length of the indentation.  You can change this to make the indentation larger or smaller depending on publisher specifications.
  8. Click on Ok to implement the changes and close the dialogue box.

Now, every time you hit the Enter key as you are typing, you no longer need to manually hit the TAB key to create a first line indent as Word will automatically apply the indentation for you.

Sometimes you will also want a gap between paragraphs.

  1. Move your mouse to the Paragraph options section on the Home tab ribbon.
  2. Click on the X button like you did earlier.
To attach extra space after a paragraph, click on the Add Space After Paragraph option, or
To attach the extra space before each paragraph, click on the Add Space Before Paragraph option.

Tip: You should only need to add space either before or after paragraphs, not both.

If you want to increase or decrease the space before or after paragraphs, click on the X button again and then click on Line Spacing Options... 

When the Paragraph Options dialogue box appears, under Spacing, you can increase or decrease the spacing by clicking on the up/down buttons to increase/decrease by 6 pts per click, or you can set your own pts value.  Once finished, click on the Ok button to return to your document.

Hope that helps.

If there is something you are struggling with in Microsoft Word and would like a tutorial on, then please let me know either in the comments section below or by using the Contact me page.

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