Setting Default Paragraph Formatting

The default in Microsoft Word 2007 adds space between paragraphs of the same style. You have to check a little box in the paragraph box if you do not want this. I have tried to change this so the default is NOT to add space between paragraphs of the same style, but it will not go to default. I have to check that box every time I start a new document. How can I change the default to not add space between paragraphs?

by Dave, Elroy, Wisconsin USA


To make your paragraph formatting changes permanent and available for any file, you need to save the change to the Normal.dotm template. Changing the template does not change already existing documents, so instructions for how to apply the paragraph formatting to all paragraphs in a document you already created are included.

Change paragraph formatting for the default template

To save changes to the default Word 2007 template, follow these steps:

  1. On the Home tab in the Paragraph group, click the launcher launcher icon to open the Paragraph dialog box.
  2. Change the paragraph indentation and line spacing settings as desired.The Paragraph formatting window
  3. Click Default. In Word 2010, click Set As Default.
  4. Click OK.

When you click the Default button, all settings in the Paragraph dialog box are saved to the Normal.dotm template, which is the default template in Word 2007. Those changes become the default setting for all new documents based on that template until you change them again.

Note: changing the default template does not change styles for previously created documents.

Just remember that the default template styles can be overridden when creating new styles for a particular document. I like to set my default template to contain the paragraph formatting I use for most documents, then change the style in individual documents, if needed.

Change paragraph formatting for an existing document

To change paragraph formatting for an already existing document, you have to change the paragraph style, then apply it to the whole document.

  1. Place the cursor in the paragraph you want to change.
  2. On the Home tab in the Styles group, open the Styles window by clicking the launcher.
    Styles Dialog launcher
  3. In the Styles list, highlight the style name, then click the down arrow.
  4. Select Modify. The Modify Style window opens.
  5. Select Automatically Update. (Note: this option may not be available for the default Normal paragraph style.)
  6. Click Format, then select Paragraph.
  7. Make the desired paragraph formatting changes, then click OK.

Once the new style is saved, every paragraph that is marked with that style is changed to the new settings.


(These comments are from a previous commenting system. Please add to the discussion using the comment box at the end of the page.)

“don’t add space between paragraphs.. won’t save as default
by: Anonymous
I followed these instructions to change the default paragraph formatting. I checked “don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”, but it will not save that setting. Is this possible? I have to go in and check that every time I open a new document.

Must be a bug…here is a workaround
by: Sue
Yes, I was able to recreate your problem. I think this may be a bug. I’ll need to do some research on the Microsoft Knowledge Base to see if I can find some answers. I’ll post my findings here.In the meantime, here is a workaround. It is a clunky way to do it, but this may work for you:Right above where you select Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style, set the Before and After Spacing to 0pt. Click Default to save the change to your default Microsoft Word template.CAUTION: You have to decide if this is the best solution for your situation…this may cause a ripple effect if you have other paragraph styles based on this particular style.

workaround solved my problem
by: Anonymous
Your workaround solved the problem I was having with the extra space added after paragraphs. Thank you so much.

buggy paragraph box
by: Dave
I tried the original solution several times, but I could not make it work either. The “x” just would not stay in the “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style” box, no matter how or in what order I checked the default box. However, the work around did work. –Dave

Microsoft Technical Support Fix for Word 2007 Paragraph Spacing
by: Sue
I found a fix in the Microsoft Knowledge Base files for the paragraph spacing issue in Word 2007. The fix changes the spacing back to the Word 2003 default. Follow this link to the article, then click the Microsoft Fix It button. If the fix does not work, there is a link listed on that page for contacting Microsoft Technical Support.

This solves the issue, thanks!!
by: Suzanne
I’ve been trying to get rid of that damn extra line after paragraphs for a year… always had to change the formatting for each new Word 2010 doc I opened. Numerous tries at finding the info on Microsoft’s site were (of course) fruitless. It’s such a simple fix, but Microsoft doesn’t DO “simple.”
Thank you thank you thank you! ^_^

by: Sue
I’m glad this helped you. Thanks for letting me know!

Default settings – font style
by: JT
I have the same problem with trying to set a default font….JT: I moved your question to a new page so I could answer it in full. Setting Default Font Formatting

Such a relief
by: Jon Wiener
Wow, great job staying with it and getting the answers.
How fantastically annoying to have to modify every document to remove the spaces……until now!
Great job, so very thankful,

Answer – Saving Paragraph and Font Styles to Normal
by: TMoney
I had the same problem. Followed the instructions from Microsoft and various forums, but it still would not actually save the settings as it was supposed to. Here’s how to fix it on W7 and presumably Vista:1. UNHIDE HIDDEN FILES
– Open Explorer.
– Click Organize.
– Click Folder and Search Options.
– Click View tab. Select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”.
– Open Word.
– Click Start.
– Click Open.
– Change file type from All Word Documents to All Files.
– Browse to C:\Users\username\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
– Select Normal.dotm
– Make changes as you would like, but don’t type anything in the document area.
– Click Save
– Close WordYour settings should now be remembered the next time you create a new document.

REMEMBER to go back and unshow the hidden files from step 1.

Paragraph Spacing
by: David H
I wish I had found this site two years earlier. Had the same problem with the default paragraph spacing. Now solved by reading your tips. Sooo easy. Many thanks from the UK – will make you all honorary Brits!!

by: Sue
Hi David H! Thanks for the note–I’m very glad this helped fix your Word problem. I wouldn’t mind being an honorary Brit! =D

everything else works….
by: Anonymous
Hi, I can’t seem to find the default button….. please help! I hate having to change the line spacing every time i use word : /thanks!!

Finding the Paragraph Formatting Default Button
by: Sue
Hi Anon:(These instructions are for Word 2007 or 2010) Scroll back up this page to the Answer section and find the instructions for “Change Paragraph Formatting for the Default Template.” Step 1 tells you how to find and open the Paragraph Formatting window. In Step 2, there is a screenshot of the the Word 2007 Paragraph Formatting window so you can see what it is supposed to look like. There are four buttons at the bottom of that window. The second one is the Default button. In Word 2010, the button is labeled “Set As Default.”


  1. Angela McLoughlin says

    Sue, I can’t thank you enough for your tip about setting the before and after paragraph spacing to 0 to get around the bug with the “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style” option. You could never imagine how many hundreds of time I have had to remove those irritating spaces. It was almost starting to bring me to tears it was so irritating. I’ve been to numerous help sites trying to find a way around it but was never successful. YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT!