How to Change Margins in Word

Sometimes you just need to move things over

Close-up of man using laptop and changing the page margins in a document

Sirinarth Mekvorawuth / EyeEm / Getty Images

Not all documents fit inside Word’s default one-inch margin between the text and the edge of the page. To change the margins in your Word documents, use one of several choices, from predefined margins that make it easy to apply a different size margin, to the customized margins adjustable to fit your needs.

These directions work with all currently supported desktop versions of Word and Word for Mac, while Word Online offers limited margin capabilities.

Quickly Change Margins in Word

To make the margins in your document smaller or larger, use Word’s Narrow, Moderate, or Wide margins. To print your document on both sides of the paper and put it in a three-ring binder, use the Mirror margin setting.

Mirror margins cannot be set in Word Online. However, if you view a document with mirror margins in Word Online, the mirror margins are preserved.

The Word Layout tab showing the predefined margin settings

To apply a predefined margin, select Layout > Margins and choose the predefined margin you want to use.

In Word Online, Word 2010 and Word 2007, the Layout tab is labeled as Page Layout. The steps to change margins remain the same.

Use the Ruler to Adjust Margins in Word

The horizontal ruler displayed below the Word menu provides another way to change the margins in your document.

Before you begin, display the ruler. If the ruler is not displayed above your document, select View and place a checkmark next to Ruler to display the ruler. You’ll also need to work in Print view. Select View > Print Layout to display the document in print view.

The ruler is not available in Word Online.

The Word ruler demonstrating where to find the left and right margins

Here’s how to change the margins using the ruler:

  • Change the left margin: Place the cursor over the left indents until it changes to a double-headed arrow. Drag the margin to the right to make it wider or to the left to make it narrower.
  • Change the right margin: Place the cursor over the right indent until it changes to a double-headed arrow. Drag the margin to the left to make it wider or to the right to make it narrower.

Create Custom Margins

When you need a certain size margin for a document, use the custom settings.

Image showing where to change the margins in the Page Setup options

Here’s how to set a custom margin size:

  1. Select Layout > Margins > Custom Margins.
  2. Change the size for the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margins.
  3. Select Set As Default to set the new margin settings as the default for the current template. This margin setting will be used in each new document you create based on that template. This feature is not available in Word Online.
  4. Select OK when you're finished.

Create Gutter Margins

Documents that will be bound need extra margin space for the binding. This gutter margin ensures the binding doesn't interfere with the white space around the text.

To add a gutter margin, select Layout > Margins > Custom Margins and type a width in the Gutter box.

You cannot create gutter margins in Word Online. Switch to the desktop version of Word to set gutter margins.

Create Mirror Margins

Documents printed on both sides of the page and bound, such as books and magazines, use a special margin setting. These mirror margins ensure the right and left pages are mirror images of each other.

To create mirror margins, select Layout > Margins and select Mirrored. To change the size of the mirror margins, select Layout > Margins > Custom Margins and change the size of the Inside or Outside margins.

Set Margins for a Section of Your Document

When your document is divided into sections, you can apply different margin sizes to different sections. This feature is not available in Word Online.

To change the margins for a single section:

  1. Select the section in the document where you want a different margin size.
  2. Select Layout > Margins > Custom Margins.
  3. Type new values for the Top, Bottom, Right, and Left margins.
  4. From the Apply to list, select This Section.
  5. Select OK when you’re done.

View Page Margins

Word can display boundary lines that show you where the margins are in your document. These boundary lines appear as dotted lines. The margin boundaries cannot be viewed in Word Online.

Image showing how to display margin boundaries in a document

To view the page margins:

  1. Select File > Options. In Word 2007, select the Microsoft Office Button and select Word Options.
  2. Select Advanced.
  3. Scroll down to the Show document content section and select Show text boundaries.
  4. Select OK.