What Is a Gutter Position in Microsoft Word?

By Deanne Lachner

When you design a book or report interior in Microsoft Word, consider where you plan to bind the pages. A sewn, glued or spiral binding takes up some space on the inside edge of each page, and text that prints too closely to the spine is difficult or impossible to read. Create an appropriately sized gutter on the inside edges of your pages using Microsoft Word formatting commands.

Determine Gutter Size

The gutter size depends on the book or report size and the type of binding the printer will use. Most professional printers, such as Lightning Source, Xlibris and Self-Publishing Inc., provide designers with a template that shows the gutter size appropriate for the printing machinery. Visit your printer's website for information on suggested gutter sizes. If you're printing a manuscript that you will bind yourself, such as with a spiral binding or a three-ring binder, a common gutter size is at least 1/2 inch, and if your binding will be wider, format your gutter 1/4 inch larger than the margins around the other sides of the page.

Set Gutter Size in Word

Set the gutter size for a document like a business report or research paper that will print on one side of the page only if you're not printing front-to-back pages. The gutter will thus be set for the left-hand side of every page. Click the "Page Layout" tab on the Microsoft Word Ribbon, and then select "Margins." Click "Custom Margins" at the bottom of the pop-up window to open the Page Setup menu. Set the value in "Gutter" to the desired size. Set "Gutter Position" to "Left."

Set Alternating or Top Gutters

Books or documents printed on both sides of a page require alternating gutters. Pages on the right have a gutter on the left and vice versa. Follow the directions for setting a gutter in Word, but then change "Multiple Pages" -- under the "Pages" heading on the Page Setup menu -- to "Mirror Margins" or "Book Fold." If you are going to bind your document at the top, leave "Multiple Pages" set to "Normal" and change the "Gutter Position" from "Left" to "Top."


Bleeds are images that print completely to the edge of a page. You might use a bleed, for example, in a colored-page children's book when you want the color to cover the entire page with no white margins. Your printer will give you the specific settings for the margins if you want a bleed, but most printers require your image to extend 1/8 inch beyond the margins, not including the gutter. If your book will be finished to a size of 6-by-9 inches, the content in the interior with bleeds should cover an area of 6.125-by-9.25 inches, according to CreateSpace.