Justify Paragraphs for a Clean Finish but Avoid Wide Gaps in Text

Have you ever tried to block justify your paragraphs (make your right margin even) in a Word document and ended up with an amateurish look of too much space between words? Try this instead (Word versions 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013+ listed).

  1. Select the text you want to block justify.
  2. Right-click on the text, and click Paragraph.
  3. On the Indents and Spacing tab, click the drop-down next to Alignment, and click Justified, OK.
  4. Right-click on the text again, and click Format, Font.
  5. Tick the Kerning for fonts box (on the Character Spacing tab, and set font size to match the size of the font in your paragraph* (kerning is the spacing between characters and each font set has its own kerning). Spacing should be set at Normal.**But play around with this until you’re satisfied by changing everything in this step. Also try using “condensed” and alter the spacing until you’re satisfied.
  6. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2003)

  1. Click the Tools menu, Options. Then click the Compatibility tab.
  2. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...”
  3. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2007)

  1. Click the Office button, Word Options, Advanced.
  2. Go to absolute bottom of Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  3. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...” (this Options list is in alphabetical order)
  4. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2010). 

  1. Click the File tab, Options, Advanced.
  2. Go to absolute bottom of the Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  3. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...” (this Options list is in alphabetical order).

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2013 and above). 

Justification has been fixed so it’s no longer necessary to change anything. If you end up with text with too much spacing on a short sentence, read below.

Fixing a Short Sentence

If you ever have a very short sentence at the end of a paragraph that spreads out in spite of your adjustments, click behind the last character of that paragraph, and press Tab to close it up. Occasionally, you’ll have to reword to fill up space.

UPDATE: In Word 2013:

  • Click the File tab, Options, Advanced.
  • Go to absolute bottom of the Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  • Tick “Don’t expand character spaces on a line that ends with SHIFT-RETURN“.

This tip does not work if you use the Courier font. This is a monospaced (or non-proportional) font which is a typewriter-like, fixed-width font, and each letter occupies the same amount of space. Other computer fonts are variable-width (or proportional) and the software adjusts the spacing automatically. (This is why since the advent of computers, only one space follows a period, not two.)

BTW, you can receive regular computer tips from me by joining my private email list (and get lots of free stuff too). And if you want to dig deeper and register for one of my workshops or Webinars, it’s all on my Website.

PEACE.

28 Comments

  1. Thank you very much, it worked but the main heading in the document refused to center alone. please what can i do to make the heading center alone without the body of the text using microsoft onenote by cope text from picture.

    1. What are you saying here? “using microsoft onenote by cope text from picture.”

      After your main paragraph, make sure you hit Enter to create a real paragraph and not Shift+Enter for a line break.

  2. My problem is I had to break a justified paragraph in Word and continue it on the following text page (there is an illustration on the page between the split paragraph). I followed your suggestion, but this doesn’t justify that last line in the first half of the paragraph.

    I knew of a way to fix this problem In Interleaf, but can’t find an equivalent in Word.

  3. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well
    am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any helpful hints for first-time blog writers?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Hi, I’m not a serious blogger and just post what I like. I’m sure there are lots of tips for you just a quick Google search away. Hang in there.

  4. Thanks ! Didn’t know about the options in file->options->advanced->layout menu. Will play around with them and see what else could be useful :)

  5. Thanks for the “fixing a short sentence.” I had tried all of your Word 2010 options and I still had this crazy final sentence every other paragraph. I was just about to pull my hair out when I scrolled down to the bottom….

  6. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a
    blog web site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I were tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided brilliant transparent idea.

  7. Hi, I have a lot of spaces in text in my book. I thought it might be ok, but now I realize its not good. It’s my first book to which I’m getting published.

  8. Great thanks!!! in word 2010 i also had to check the Tick “Don’t expand character spaces on a line that ends with SHIFT-RETURN“. and only after that it worked

  9. Hi All,

    for the ones using word 2013:
    to remove the wide gaps which are specially placed on the last line of a paragraph, below is the solution:
    Goto File–>Options–>Advanced–>Layout options for “doc”–>check “Don’t expand character spaces on a line that ends with SHIFT-RETURN”

    cheers,
    Raghu

  10. Wonderful!!! This helped to eliminate all the wide spaces (gaps) within the body of the paragraph. A+++

  11. Thank you for your help: in ‘avoiding wide gaps in text’.

    All the Best,

    Gareth. 

    1. You’re welcome, Gareth. That’s what I’m here for. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  12. Ms. Duncan
    I ordered your Shameless Self Promotion Book I would say almost a year ago. I downloaded it. Is this the same book you have listed above or a new addition? Waiting for response.
    Deanetta

    1. Hi Deanetta, If you were receiving my updates (I sent several), then yes, it's the same info. I resized it and printed. Thanks for asking.

Comments are closed.