5.2 Using Page Setup to specify margins

Margins Example

In order to change the margins—the space along the top, left, right, and bottom of your document—you will need to access the Page Setup dialog box.

  • Click File on the menu bar.
  • Select Page Setup.
  • Select Margins tab in the Page Setup dialog box.


  • Choose Reveal Formatting on the task pane and click the blue link, Margin, under the section heading.
  • You can change the margin in precise steps by clicking the up or down arrows next to the margin you want to change, or you can type a number in the text box next to the margin you want to change.
  • Click OK.

Page Setup Dialog Box

More options in the Page Setup dialog box

The Page Setup dialog box gives you several other options for controlling the look of your document. Not only can you control how your document looks on screen, but you can also manage how your document will be printed. The margins, paper, and layout tabs all contain valuable tools.

Margins tab

  1. Click the Default button in the lower-left corner of the Page Setup dialog box to set (or reset) Word’s default margins.
  2. You can choose to apply these new margins to the entire document or from this point forward by using the drop-down menu, Apply to:.
  3. Change the page orientation by clicking on either the Portrait box (8.5 x 11) or the Landscape box (11 x 8.5).

Paper tab

The default paper size is 8.5 x 11, but you can change the paper size entirely. You can even customize the paper size to include note cards, envelopes, photo paper, index cards, and much more.

Layout tab

The Layout tab includes options to customize page numbering, borders, and headers and footers. A nice feature on the Layout tab is creating a title page for your document.

To create a title page for your document:

  • Enter the text you want on your title page.
  • Click File on the Standard toolbar.
  • Select Page Setup from the menu bar.
  • Click the Layout tab.
  • Under Vertical Alignment, you will find the following options:
    • Top: This is the default. Text lines up with the top margin.
    • Center: Text on the page is centered between the top and bottom margins.
    • Justified: Text is spread out so each line is the same distance apart.
    • Bottom: Text lines up with the bottom of the page.


  • Open a new document.
  • Open the Page Setup dialog box.
  • Click the Margins tab.
  • Change your margins to:
    • Top margin: 2 inches
    • Left margin: 1 inch
    • Right margin: 1inch
    • Bottom margin: .5 inch
  • Make sure your document is set to portrait orientation.
  • View the Preview to see your changes.
  • Click OK.


Indent text

An indent is the space between your margin and your text. Don’t confuse the margin and the indent. The indent feature is often used to set a first-line indent for paragraphs.

To indent one or more lines of text:

  • You can use the Paragraph dialog box or select the blue Indentation link under Paragraph on the task pane. This method allows for a great amount of precision for setting left and right indents. Indenting is measured in inches. You can change the indent in tenths of inches.

Indent Options

  • In the Indentation section, you can click the increment arrows to enter the amount of indentation.


  • Use the Increase/Decrease Indent buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Indent Buttons

CompleteClicking the Increase/Decrease Indent buttons is the most convenient way of setting a left or right indent. Each time you click the Increase Indent or Decrease Indent button, your text is moved 0.5 inches by default.

Indented Paragraph

Remember, there is a difference between indents and tabs. If you set a tab, only one line of text is indented. If you click one of the indent buttons or set an indent in the Paragraph dialog box, all of the text you type afterward will be indented.

Hanging indents

When all lines in a paragraph are indented except the first line, a hanging indent is created. Hanging indents are not standard in documents such as business letters, but you may see examples of the hanging indent on webpages, newsletters, and often on bibliographic entries. Hanging indents are used for the MLA bibliographic format.

Hanging Paragraph Example

To create a hanging indent:

  • Choose Reveal Formatting on the task pane.
  • Click the blue link, Indentation, under the Paragraph heading.


  • Click Format on the menu bar.
  • Select Paragraph.
  • In the Indentation section, you will see a Special: drop-down menu with some options.
  • Select the Hanging Indent option in the Special: drop-down menu.
  • You may specify the amount of indentation in the By: box by clicking the increment arrows. These increments are measured in inches.

Hanging Menu


  • Open the Reveal Formatting menu on the task pane.
  • Click the Indentation section under Paragraph.
  • In the Indentation section, select the Hanging Indent option in the Special: drop-down menu.
  • In the By: drop-down menu, click the increment arrow until it reads .8″.
  • Click OK.
  • You will now see 0.8-inch hanging indent.