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How to adjust MS Word margins

In Microsoft Word I copy and paste a lot. My margins are set at .375. A lot of stuff I copy is only 2.5″ wide. Can I reformat to fill up the page margin to margin instead of stopping halfway and starting a new line?

Celeste StewartCopying and Pasting Text in Word

Microsoft Word has a few different options for how it handles copied text. Most Word users know about using "Control + C" to copy text and "Control + V" to paste it. However, you can also use the Paste Special command (File > Edit > Paste Special in Word 2003 or click the Paste clipboard icon in the Home tab of Word 2007 and choose Paste Special) to choose how you want the text to be pasted into the document.

For example, if you are copying and pasting text from a Web site, not only are you copying the text, but also any underlying HTML code which could be affecting the margins. Instead, try using the Paste Special command and choose "unformatted text."

Adjusting Word Options

You can also adjust how Word handles the formatting of pasted text by going into Word Options and clicking on the Advanced option. Here, you'll find options for keeping the source formatting or matching the destination document's formatting for:

  • Pasting within the same document
  • Pasting between documents
  • Pasting between documents with style conflicts
  • Pasting from other programs

Using Word's Ruler

You can also adjust the way text displays on the page using the ruler across the top of the page. The ruler takes some getting used to. However, if you hover your mouse over the space that represents the margin (usually where the color changes from white to blue) and wait until your cursor turns into a double sided arrow, you can drag the margin to the desired width.

Source Formatting

It is also possible that the source text has hard breaks within the text in which case, these breaks have been created by pressing the enter key. For example, the original writer may have used the enter key to purposely break up the text, such as when typing a poem:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I want the text in four lines

Rather than one or two

You can use Find and Replace to remove the paragraph breaks made by pressing the enter key. First, if you want to see the hard breaks, press the button on your Word toolbar that looks like this: ¶ (similar to a backwards P). In order to remove all of these instances of paragraph breaks, click the Control + F key combination and enter ^p in the Find What box. Now, click on the Replace tab and put an empty space in the Replace box and then click Replace or Replace All. You may want to select paragraphs at a time so that you don't end up with one huge block of text with no paragraphs.

This process isn't perfect. In our poetry example, you'll notice problems with capitalization and punctuation as shown below:

Roses are red Violets are blue I want the text in four lines Rather than one or two

Microsoft MVP has more tips on the MVP FAQ page.

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