At part point, everybody has to layout a document. And also lawyers do this an ext than most people. And also yet, very basic concepts about record formatting are poorly understood, and also Microsoft doesn’t carry out anybody any favors through making it easier. In my opinion, the first step in learning how to efficiently produce nicer-looking documents is come understand precisely what you’re doing. So, because that anyone who has ever before wondered, here’s a brief primer top top font size and line spacing.

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Point Size

If you kind documents in Word because that a living, you more than likely use 12-point Times new Roman. What does that mean? One suggest is 1/72 of one inch. Thus, a 12-point font is 1/6 the an inch high, together measured indigenous the lowest descender (the tails on letter such as g, j, and y) to the greatest ascender (the top components of letter such together b, d, and also h).



But even this is a little simplified. In reality, a “12-point” font is what looks good with various other “12-point fonts.” below are 2 letters, in Times new Roman and in Courier New, in ~ the exact same font dimension (e.g., 12 pt), v line alongside them the is specifically that length (e.g., 1/6 inch).



As you deserve to see, the two fonts room not the exact same size, and neither one is a full 12-points high. “12-point” Times brand-new Roman really takes up about 11 point out of upright space, and “12-point” Courier brand-new really take away up around 10 point of upright space. Nonetheless, they space both called “12-point” fonts, and also that is important for just how Word treats them.


Leading (rhymes with “wedding”) is the street from one heat of text to the next line; that is name mirrors the fact that typographers provided to transform the heat spacing by placing strips the lead in between lines. Today, it’s found as the “line spacing” option in the “Paragraph” formatting food selection of Word:


The most typical line spacings used are “Single” spacing and also “Double” spacing. However even these are misnomers. Time because that a quick (but important!) background lessson.

back in the old days of typewriters, heat spacing was constantly 6 present per inch (12 points every line). This was a mechanical function of the form writer; it can not be changed. Your only real choices for heat spacing to be to type single-spaced through 12 points every line, or come insert a carriage return between line to double-space the text at 24 points every line.

Double-spacing — 24 points every line or 3 present per customs — came to be the share in lot writing, in details legal writing. Top top a standard letter-sized page, one left a one-inch optimal margin and also a half-inch bottom margin, leave 9.5 inches of usable space. At 3 lines every inch, this left room because that 28 lines every page. Old legitimate pleadings (and legitimate pleadings in jurisdictions that require pleading paper) thus have actually 28 numbered lines per page.

But, the basic days room behind us. In Word, Times brand-new Roman actually has about 2 point out of extra white space built in. So, single spacing because that a 12-point font is actually 14 points every line, and double spacing is 28 points per line. Incorporate that with standard indigenous processor spare of one customs (top and bottom), and you’re left through 23 lines per page. Even today, there is part confusion in the legit industry around whether “double-spaced” means 28 currently per page or 23 lines every page.

The crucial Part: multiple vs. Exactly

Enough with the background lesson. The important part about heat spacing is knowing exactly how to edit it.

When you get in the paragraph formatting dashboard in Word, there are 6 settings: Single, 1.5 lines, Double, in ~ least, Exactly, and Multiple. Single, 1.5 lines, Double, and also Multiple are all straightforward: the line 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” setting seems favor it must be straightforward. If you desire 2 point out of room between each line the 12-point text, set “Exactly” come 14 points. (I to be ignoring the “at least” setting, because that now.) straightforward enough, right?


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