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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008 Apps
For some unknown reason, Microsoft decided to set the Word 2008 spacing "after" a paragraph to 10 points by default. This makes it look as though you have pressed Carriage Return twice after a paragraph. To remedy this, do the following:
  1. Open Word.
  2. Go to Format » Styles...
  3. Highlight Normal in the Styles selection window, then press Modify.
  4. In the new window that opens, check the Add to Template box (lower left).
  5. Now choose Paragraph from the pop-up menu in the lower left corner of that same window.
  6. In the new window, change the After setting to 0.
  7. Click OK twice to close windows, then press Apply in the main Style window.
  8. Quit Word and re-open.
The default paragraph style should now have an "after" spacing of zero.

[robg adds: Another way to do this is to leave the "after" spacing as-is, and just check the box that reads "Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style" on the Paragraph box (it's just below the After pop-up menu). If you set it up this way, you'll only get the large gap if you change the style. Note that I added the bit in the instructions above about marking the 'add to template' box. If you don't do this, then the default template won't be updated to reflect your new settings.]
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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008 | 16 comments | Create New Account
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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: wjv on Feb 12, '08 08:27:25AM

There's nothing wrong, as such, with the default setup in Word. A paragraph is a unit of formatting in Word (and in many other word processors). If you want gaps between your paragraphs (as most people would, most of the time), you're supposed to set up your paragraph style to have a space either before or after it. (It's debatable which is better.) What you should NOT do is press carriage return twice, leaving a dangling, empty, useless paragraph between your two paragraphs. This could cause complete havoc if and when you reformat your document at a later stage.

It's also in no way new to Office 2008 for Word to have spacing attached to its default paragraph style. This goes back... oh, back to about when Word first introduced styles. (Though I seem to remember that over the years they've swapped between putting the blank space before and after the paragraph.)

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: alanchrishughes on Apr 05, '09 12:18:08PM

I've read all these arguments way it is correct to have this gap between paragraphs, but it still doesn't make sense and I have never in my life read a book, magazine, or newspaper that has a gap between paragraphs, it is just indented on the next line.

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Very bad advice!
Authored by: cheeseworm on Feb 12, '08 09:17:58AM
Putting empty paragraphs to create space after is bad practice. What Word is doing is correct and you should learn to work with it, not subvert it. You'll be glad you did. By doing it the correct way you can have exactly the space after that you want, and you won't end up with an empty paragraph at the top of the page if you reformat your document. When I am given text for layout the first thing I do is take out all the empty paragraphs, otherwise it is unusable. Likewise all the double spaces after periods, and the spaces before question marks!

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Thanks for the heads up
Authored by: bedouin on Feb 12, '08 09:38:51AM

Yet another reason for me not to bother installing 2008.

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The Mac is not a typewriter
Authored by: scottdb on Feb 12, '08 09:55:49AM

Word is doing the right thing with spaces after paragraphs. Pages also does this. It's called proper typography. People who put two carriage returns after paragraphs (as well as two spaces after periods) simply don't know what they're doing. In my mind, it's just about as amateurish as somebody who stores all their files on the desktop because they can't be bothered to learn good file management. My advice? Learn the tools of your trade.

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The Mac is not a typewriter
Authored by: vagabond on Feb 12, '08 11:11:40AM

Yes, true. However, sometimes you might want to begin a sentence on a new line without creating a new paragraph. This is OK too. :-) In Word 08 you can do this by holding the shift key when pressing enter.
This way the text is part of the same paragraph on a new line.

In HTML this would be like using

<p>Paragraph text</p> 
<br /> or <br>
for new lines

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Nah, don't
Authored by: artistry on Feb 13, '08 07:44:48AM

As others have said, Word's doing it right. Adding an empty line is wrong, and there should be a space after paras. As someone who reads lots of Word docs in my job (university lecturer) I'm glad that before long students using the defaults will be submitting properly formatted texts!

You could, as has been said, use shift-return for a line break without starting a new paragraph or set up a new style, but honestly, don't - Word is right!

(If only they'd automatically get rid of two spaces after a full stop (period) then it would be perfect!)

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: tyip on Feb 13, '08 04:55:09PM

I thought in some previous Word version, they had a very convenient button in the toolbar to add/remove the space before paragraphs. A simple click would add 6 points before the paragraph, and clicking the button again would remove the extra space. This major convenience had been gone for several versions and I've had to make my own button to do this.

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: otmg on Feb 21, '08 03:35:06PM

Thanks much for this! As far as some of the comments, it's all about perspective and needed usage. Some of us (many I suspect) use Word for all sorts of document creation aside from "accepted, standard" word processing. It doesn't make us amateurish, it simply means we have different needs.

Thanks again for this solution!

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: mistergsf on Feb 22, '08 03:24:37PM

Wrong or right, my opinion is this. In Word 2004, I could simply type a list of items in single space if I wanted. In Word 2008, if I want to do the same thing, I have to do a shift-return after each item to avoid the double spacing. I am not used to typing in this way and it's a hard habit to break. For those who are saying it's wrong, why wasn't the auto paragraph spacing the default in Word 04? A double return after each paragraph has NOT caused any problems for me ever since using Word in any version -- Mac OR Windows.

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: JoelG on Mar 11, '08 01:48:39AM
That Word is formatting "correctly" is all well and good, except that standard typographical practice is to put two returns after a paragraph. Sure, it dates back to using a typewriter, and yes, proper formatting simple on a carriage return would perhaps be better, but - that's the way it is.

If nothing else, though, just try cutting and pasting text from Word if you haven't put too returns in - your paragraphs are (apparently) "gone". For plain text formatting you really need those two returns.

A better option would be for Word to recognise that two carriage returns directly after each other is a new paragraph (perhaps it already does - I haven't experimented in detail.)

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: rooster on Mar 25, '08 06:04:52PM

Hi Guys, glad some have found this hint useful. I just want to clarify something, however. I am an English Language Arts teacher, I have worked 10 years in the newspaper industry using AP Style (production, layout, typesetting), and I am a graduate student that uses MLA in writing literary reviews/research. This is why I need the extra space after a carriage return removed. These jobs do not require extra space after a carriage return, in fact, they all require no space after a paragraph.

I was not commenting on the use of an extra carriage return vs. use of paragraph styles when extra space is needed. I was helping people that want no space after paragraphs. The fact that this argument was even brought up here is a mystery to me.

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: skamen on Apr 24, '08 07:33:25AM

What do you do when you are already using double spacing? As a history student at University, my writing is done in double spacing. With the default extra space at the end of a paragraph that Word 2008 puts in by default there is quite a bit of space between one paragraph and another. Is this the proper way to do it with double spacing? It looks odd and there is quite a lot of space.

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: ocsquatch on May 01, '08 12:03:44PM

This is a brilliant hint, although you're best off simply updating the default template to load with the "Don't add" box checked. That extra-space after paragraphs is unbearably annoying, followed closely by Calibri 11 as the default font. There's a reason we indent the first line of each paragraph. Adding any extra space between paragraphs is redundant and wrong (akin to putting quotation marks around a block quotation). Thanks for the hint. (Double spacing after periods is a hold-over from typewriters, but most styles [like MLA] don't actually consider it wrong.)

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: mhedstrom on May 09, '08 09:47:41AM

The Word 2008 default works well for writing single-spaced essays or letters, but, as others have noted, it does not work well at all for double-spaced documents, which is the standard for academic writing. I am a historian writing a book in Word, and my editor at a major university press requires the manuscript in double space. The Word 2008 default in this instance is a major nuisance. Thanks for the fix!

(It's also no good for lots of other everyday uses, such as writing lists, taking notes, etc.)

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Change the 'after' default paragraph spacing in Word 2008
Authored by: rocket1039 on Dec 14, '08 02:34:09PM

Thank you so much for this. The gap between lines when you hit return was maddening. The last straw was dropping marks on a document I handed in at college due to it.

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