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3 Ways to Double-Space a Paragraph in Microsoft Word

Leaving space between each line of text in a document can make it more readable. Read on for 3 ways to double-space your Word documents!

Some people believe that leaving space between each line of text in a document makes it more readable. Many of us are familiar with this convention from writing essays in school.

Microsoft Word provides several ways to double-space paragraphs in a document. You can double-space a specific paragraph, a numbered or bulleted list, or the entire document. The method you choose will depend on your formatting objectives.

Don’t confuse double-spacing a paragraph with typing two spaces after a period – the latter is just plain wrong!

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What is a Paragraph?

Before we explore the various ways to double-space paragraphs in Microsoft Word, we should probably talk about what a paragraph is.

According to Grammar Monster, “a paragraph is a distinct section of writing covering one topic”. While traditionally most paragraphs contain more than one sentence, in Microsoft Word any time you press Enter you’re creating a paragraph.

When you press Enter in Microsoft Word, a non-printing paragraph mark is added to whatever content you’ve included in your document and you’re able to begin a new paragraph.

Paragraphs can contain:

  • A single line of text
  • One or more sentences
  • Titles or headings
  • Pictures, tables, or graphics

To see the paragraph marks in a Word document, click the Show/Hide ¶ button in the Home > Paragraph group.

Show/Hide button

Alright… enough preamble! Let’s look at 3 ways to double-space a paragraph in Microsoft Word!

Method #1: Adjust Line Spacing Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The first method we’ll look at is quick and easy. Click to place your insertion point anywhere in a paragraph, or drag to select several paragraphs, then use one of the following key combinations to adjust line spacing.

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Ctrl + 1Single spaced
Ctrl + 51.5 line spacing
Ctrl + 2Double spaced

Method #2: Use the Line and Paragraph Spacing Button

Click to place your insertion point anywhere in a paragraph, or drag to select several paragraphs, then click the Line and Paragraph Spacing button in the Home > Paragraph group.

In the drop-down list that appears, you have the following options.

Numeric Values

Click any of the numeric values (1.0, 1.15, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0) to adjust the line spacing to that amount. 1.0 for single spacing, 2.0 for double spacing, etc.

Line Spacing Options

Click Line Spacing Options… to display the Paragraph dialog box. Then click the Line spacing: down-arrow and select Double in the Spacing section on the Indents and Spacing tab.

Add Space Before Paragraph

Selecting Add Space Before Paragraph adds 12pts of space above the selected paragraph(s). 1pt is 1/72nd of an inch – so 12pts would give us 1/6th of an in inch or approximately 20mm of space above the selected paragraph(s) on a printed page.

Remove Space After Paragraph

Selecting Remove Space After Paragraph sets the space following the selected paragraph(s) to 0pts, eliminating any whitespace between them. By default, Word adds 8pts of space between paragraphs formatted with the Normal style.

Method #3: Modify the Normal Style

Microsoft Word uses styles to consistently format many elements in a typical document. Styles are named collections of formatting options. By default, paragraphs are formatted using the Normal style which means they use the Calibri font, they’re left-aligned, and line spacing is set to 1.08.

To modify the Normal style:

  1. Right-click Normal style in the Home > Styles group and select Modify from the shortcut menu.

2. Click the double space button in the Modify Style dialog box then click OK.

As a result, every paragraph in the entire document formatted with the Normal style, has been updated and is now double-spaced.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients throughout North America.