space between paragraphsUse 4–10 points

Space be­tween para­graphs is an al­ter­na­tive to a first-line in­dent for sig­nal­ing the start of a new paragraph.

The worst way to put space be­tween para­graphs is to in­sert an ex­tra car­riage re­turn. (See car­riage re­turns for why.)

As with first-line in­dents, you want the space to be large enough to be eas­ily no­ticed, but not so large that the para­graphs seem dis­con­nected. Be­tween 4 and 10 points of space (0.06–0.14″) will usu­ally suf­fice. The larger the point size, the more space you’ll need be­tween para­graphs to make a vis­i­ble difference.

How to set space between paragraphs

WordRight-click in the text and se­lect ParagraphIndents and Spacing. Un­der Spacing, in the box next to After, en­ter the measurement.

Word­Per­fectFormatParagraphFormatSpacing between paragraphs. Se­lect the but­ton la­beled Distance in points, and en­ter the mea­sure­ment in the box.

by the way
  • Is space be­fore a para­graph equiv­a­lent to space af­ter? Some­times. In word proces­sors, the space be­tween two para­graphs is the larger of the space af­ter the first para­graph and the space be­fore the sec­ond para­graph. Thus, if every para­graph has 12 points of space af­ter, you’ll get 12 points of space be­tween each pair. But if each para­graph has 6 points of space be­fore and 6 points af­ter, the space be­tween will only be 6 points. To avoid sur­prises, I pre­fer to rely on space af­ter, and use space be­fore in spe­cial cir­cum­stances. For in­stance, a block quo­ta­tion may need space be­fore and af­ter to look ver­ti­cally aligned.

  • Space be­tween para­graphs is a poor choice for court fil­ings with line num­bers. The only way to pre­serve the ver­ti­cal align­ment is to make the space be­tween para­graphs equal to a whole line space. This leaves a lot of big gaps in the page and eats up your page lim­its. It can work with head­ings, how­ever, be­cause a doc­u­ment con­tains fewer of them.

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