July 1, 2016

Format Your Paragraphs

Filed under: Main,Video — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Forget all the fancy graphics and other whatnot. A document consists of paragraphs, one after the other, flowing down the page. How you format those paragraphs is important. To perform that job, you have two choices.

The first choice, presented by default in Word, is to format each paragraph with a smidgen of space afterwards. The paragraph’s first line isn’t indented. This presentation is how the Normal style formats a paragraph by default. It’s also the same presentation used on this and other websites.

The second choice is to remove the space after each paragraph and instead indent the paragraph’s first line. This formatting choice is presented frequently in printed material.

The goal of both options is to make a long expanse of paragraphs readable. The human eye gets lost in the “great wall of text.” If you’ve ever lost your place when reading a long paragraph, you’ve experiencing this effect first hand. So your choices are to add space after the paragraph or indent the first line — but not both. That’s overkill.

The following video demonstrates these two options in Word 2016.

After choosing a paragraph formatting option, I recommend that you create a paragraph style.

In my documents, I create a paragraph style I call Body. My Body style is either first line indent with no space after the paragraph, or space after the paragraph with no first line indent, depending on the document.

When I set a space after the paragraph, I set it to the size to 80 percent of the line height. So if the font size is 12 points, I’ll set about 10 points as the space after. In the typewriter realm, that’s the equivalent of two carriage returns after a paragraph of text, i.e., a blank line between paragraphs.

When I set first line indent, I set the paragraph’s First Line attribute to half an inch. Further, I confirm that the Space After attribute is set to zero points.

For more details on paragraph formatting or creating a style, see my various Word For Dummies books.

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