Set Margins: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

The blank area around the edges of a page is the margin, and you can control how much or how little space you leave there.

Of course, you can't run the text all the way from edge to edge on the page, although it would certainly save paper. Imagine reading a novel with no margin: even if it cost less, it wouldn't be worth the eye strain. Setting generous margins is a great way to make a document easy on the eyes when reading.

Typical business letters allow for at least an inch on all sides, and newsletters require as little as 0.25 inch because they divide the page into smaller elements. In addition, some inkjet printers require you to leave at least 0.5 inch on the edge of the page so they can hold onto the paper during the printing process.

You can set margins using a dialog box in MS Word, or by using the ruler.

  1. Choose File | Page Setup to access the dialog box that controls the format of the page.
  2. Click the Margins tab, if necessary, to see the choices for margins.
  3. Type measurements in inches (no need to type the quotation marks ["], or click the spin boxes to set the top, bottom, left, and right margins.
  4. Click OK to apply these new margin measurements.

If you just want to see the margins instead of setting exact measurements, use the ruler. One easy way to do this is through Print preview.

  1. Click the Print Preview button or choose File | Print Preview.
  2. Click the View Ruler button, if necessary, to see the rulers on the top and left sides of the page. You'll use the vertical ruler to change the top and bottom margins, and the horizontal ruler to change the left and right margins.
  3. Place the mouse pointer over the ruler just at the boundary between the gray and white areas. Your mouse pointer turns into a two-headed arrow when you get the exact spot.
  4. Drag to increase or decrease the margin. You can use the markings on the ruler to see what the measurements are.
  5. Can't tell the exact measurements very well? Hold down both buttons as you drag. This shows the exact measurement on the ruler.
  6. Click Close to return to Normal or Print Layout view.

When you drag the ruler in Print Preview to change the margins, the measurements in the Page Setup dialog box reflect your changes.

To see the screenshots for this article, click here.

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