Setting Default Paragraph Spacing in Word 2010

Some Word 2010 users do not like the default paragraph spacing. For most users, two simple steps are all that’s needed:

1) In the Home tab, click Change Styles – Paragraph Spacing, and under Built-In, choose the kind of spacing you want.

2) In the Home tab, click Change Styles – Set as Default.

That’s it. If a document is displayed, Word will show a live preview of the different options as you hover the mouse over them.

For additional information–or if you encounter problems–keep on reading.

Either open an existing document OR, in a new Word document, at the beginning of a line, type the following so you will be able to see a live preview of the different paragraph spacing options:


and press Enter. This will create five paragraphs of dummy text, each containing four sentences.

Next, in the Home ribbon tab, choose Change Styles – Paragraph Spacing, and hover the mouse over the choices shown. As you move the mouse, the text in the document will show a live preview of the result. If you don’t want any space between paragraphs, for example, then click on No Paragraph Space, as shown below.

Note that if the Built-In choices don’t do what you want, you can use the Custom Paragraph Spacing… option to roll your own.

Set the Before: and After: spacing as desired, and click OK. Now, to make your selection/setting your new default (regardless of which spacing option you select), immediately choose Change Styles – Set as Default, which is right under Paragraph Spacing. After doing this, check to verify that your spacing has changed—not only in the current document, but in new documents as well. Press Ctrl+N to create a new document. At the top of the document repeat the =rand(5,4) exercise.

To finally cement the deal, you need to save Normal.dotm. Unless you’ve changed the defaults in Word—or unless something else is amiss, this will happen automatically when you close Word. If you’re prompted for changes to Normal.dotm when you close Word, you’ll need to say Yes to saving changes to Normal.dotm. If Normal.dotm is protected for some reason–i.e., so you cannot save changes to it–then this will not work. You’ll first need to get rid of whoever in your company is locking Normal.dotm against changes. Good luck with that. Or, you might need to find the location of Normal.dotm, and make that location a Trusted Location. To do this, choose File – Options – Trust Center – Trust Center Settings… – Trusted Locations – Add new location.

Browse to the desired location, and click OK until all dialog boxes are closed. For this to take effect, you will need to close and then re-open Word.

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