At some point, everybody has actually to format a document. And lawyers carry out this much more than many people. And yet, very basic concepts about record formatting space poorly understood, and Microsoft doesn’t do anybody any favors through making that easier. In mine opinion, the first step in learning how to efficiently develop nicer-looking papers is come understand precisely what she doing. So, because that anyone who has ever before wondered, here’s a quick primer ~ above font size and also line spacing.

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Point Size

If you kind documents in Word for a living, you most likely use 12-point Times new Roman. What does the mean? One point is 1/72 of one inch. Thus, a 12-point font is 1/6 that an customs high, as measured native the shortest descender (the tails on letters such together g, j, and y) to the highest ascender (the top parts of letter such as b, d, and also h).



But even this is a bit simplified. In reality, a “12-point” font is what looks good with other “12-point fonts.” here are two letters, in Times brand-new Roman and in Courier New, at the very same font dimension (e.g., 12 pt), with line next to them the is precisely that length (e.g., 1/6 inch).



As you deserve to see, the two fonts room not the very same size, and neither one is a complete 12-points high. “12-point” Times new Roman really takes up about 11 clues of upright space, and “12-point” Courier new really take away up about 10 allude of vertical space. Nonetheless, they space both referred to as “12-point” fonts, and also that is essential for just how Word treats them.


Leading (rhymes v “wedding”) is the street from one heat of message to the next line; that is name reflects the fact that typographers supplied to transform the heat spacing by placing strips that lead in between lines. Today, it’s uncovered as the “line spacing” option in the “Paragraph” formatting menu of Word:


The most typical line spacings offered are “Single” spacing and also “Double” spacing. Yet even these space misnomers. Time because that a brief (but important!) history lessson.

ago in the old job of typewriters, line spacing was always 6 currently per customs (12 points every line). This was a mechanical function of the type writer; it might not it is in changed. Your just real options for line spacing to be to form single-spaced with 12 points per line, or to insert a carriage return between line come double-space the message at 24 points per line.

Double-spacing — 24 points every line or 3 currently per customs — became the share in lot writing, in specific legal writing. On a typical letter-sized page, one left a one-inch height margin and also a half-inch bottom margin, leaving 9.5 customs of usable space. In ~ 3 lines every inch, this left room for 28 lines per page. Old legal pleadings (and legitimate pleadings in jurisdictions that need pleading paper) thus have 28 numbered lines every page.

But, the an easy days are behind us. In Word, Times brand-new Roman in reality has around 2 point out of extra white space built in. So, solitary spacing because that a 12-point font is actually 14 points per line, and twin spacing is 28 points every line. Integrate that v standard native processor margins of one customs (top and bottom), and also you’re left v 23 lines per page. Also today, there is some confusion in the legal industry about whether “double-spaced” method 28 currently per web page or 23 lines every page.

The essential Part: lot of vs. Exactly

Enough v the history lesson. The important part about line spacing is knowing just how to edit it.

When you go into the i formatting dashboard in Word, over there are 6 settings: Single, 1.5 lines, Double, at least, Exactly, and Multiple. Single, 1.5 lines, Double, and also Multiple space all straightforward: the heat spacing is 14 points, 21 points, 28 points, or 14x points per line.

Where possible, never use the “Exactly” or “At Least” settings.

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The “Exactly” setup seems like it must be straightforward. If you want 2 clues of space between every line of 12-point text, collection “Exactly” come 14 points. (I am ignoring the “at least” setting, because that now.) simple enough, right?


This gift Microsoft Word, it has to go and also complicate things. Right here are two message samples. The very first is set to “1.5 lines” (which is 21 points per line). The other is set to “Exactly” 21. View if you have the right to spot the difference: