Word automatically forces you to add a space between paragraghs and doesn’t indent at the beginning of each line, which, if you look at any published book, isn’t how paragraphs should be presented.

In this world where word processors, business letters and online writing have altered our formatting of paragraphs, we need to change the defaults so that each paragraph is presented correctly.

The first line of a book and each new chapter shouldn’t be indented, but all other paragraphs should be. This also applies to written coursework – though, of course, you should always check with your teacher to find out how s/he wants you to present your work.

Here’s how to change your defaults so you don’t leave a line and you indent.

In your Word document, go to the line spacing tab – (the one you click to make the lines 1.5- or double-spaced)

You’ll find a ‘line spacing options…’ tab under all the numbers

Click that.

Leave ‘General’ as it is

On Indentation select First line from the Special drop-down menu

It will automatically give you 1.27cm

Under Spacing tick the ‘don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style’ box and select ‘Line spacing’ as 1.5 – or 2 – whichever suits


If you want to save it as your normal Word layout, select ‘Default’ before closing the pop-up box.


When you go back to your document, go to the line spacing tab again and make sure that you have ‘add space before/after paragraph’ written – if not, click on ‘remove space before/after paragraph’


So, there you have it. Easy!

Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

One Thought on “Proper paragraphs: how to format in Word”

  • Still working on how to use wordpress to present images as I’d like them to — that’ll be something for another day 🙂

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