How to Fix Too Much Spacing When Justifying Text

By C. Taylor

Justifying the text in a paragraph aligns the text with both the left and right margins. By default, Word 2013 retains the original character spacing within words but adjusts the space between words to produce the justified effect. This behavior can produce unsightly rivers of white space that run through the paragraph. This effect is more obvious with narrow paragraph widths, such as with columns, because there's less width to distribute word spacing. Word offers a few tweaks that minimize this effect to give your document a polished look.

Step 1

Select the text you wish to modify. To apply changes to an entire document, press "Ctrl-A." To select a single paragraph, triple-click any word in the paragraph.

Step 2

Click the "Page Layout" tab, select "Hyphenation" in the Page Setup group and then choose "Auto" to automatically add hyphens to the selected text. This allows long words to wrap to the next line with a hyphen instead of pushing the entire word down and creating additional empty space. Alternatively, select "Manual" to approve Word's hyphenation suggestions in a dialog box.

Step 3

Click the "Home" tab and then select the "Distributed" button in the Paragraph group. Alternatively, press "Ctrl-Shift-J." This applies a full justification effect that evenly distributes spaces in both words and characters.

Step 4

Click the lower right arrow in the Home tab's Font group or press "Ctrl-D," to open the Font dialog. Select the "Advanced" tab.

Step 5

Click the "Spacing" drop-down menu followed by "Condensed" to compress characters. This allows more text on a line, so blank spaces are minimized. Adjust the amount of compression by entering small values in the accompanying value; ntering large values will create nearly unreadable text. Click "OK" to apply your selection.

Tips & Warnings

  • Similar to condensing text, you can also reduce the Scale option on the Font dialog's Advanced tab to compress words. The difference is the width of the characters are changed, rather than the space between the characters. However, the result is similar in that it enables more words to fit on a line to reduce white space.