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3.8: Setting Page Orientation and Margins

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    The page setup of a document includes settings such as margins, orientation, and other pagination settings. These settings can be applied to the entire document, or specific sections, which can be created by inserting section breaks (not explained in this text). The Page Setup group found under the Layout tab contains these selections.

    Page orientation refers to how a rectangular page is arranged for viewing.


    The orientation of a Word document can be either portrait or landscape. Portrait orientation is taller than it is wide (vertically), and landscape orientation is wider than it is tall (horizontally). The default orientation is portrait.

    Choosing a page orientation needs to consider the paper size selected for the document. The standard paper size in North America is called Letter, which has the dimensions of 8.5” x 11”. Legal documents are 14” instead of 11”, which means when printed in portrait orientation, legal documents are three inches longer (and a pain to fit in a standard folder!). The standard paper size in Europe is known as A4. Its dimensions are 210mm x 297mm, which is closer to the Legal size, than the Letter size.

    page size
    Paper size

    Many posters and tables are often printed on Tabloid sized paper, which is 11” x 17”. However, since a lot of home printers cannot accommodate this size of paper, many users choose to change their orientation to landscape, which changes the printable width to 11”, and the printable height to 8.5”. If adjusting the orientation doesn’t solve the layout challenges of the document, consider adjusting the margins!

    Margins are the white space surrounding the text on a page. Margins can be specified for the top, bottom, left and right edges of a document. The default margins are 1” each, but margins can easily be adjusted from the pre-set choices in the Margins drop-down list, or by manually adjustments in the Page Setup window, which can be opened by clicking the launcher button in the Page Setup group in the Layout tab. Narrow margins leave more room for more data, while wider margins decrease the amount of printable space. Similarly, larger top and bottom margins decrease the available space. If adjusting orientation and margins aren’t enough to resolve page formatting, consider using page breaks.

    Page Setup window
    Page Setup window

    Pagination is how a document is divided into pages. Word automatically determines how much text will fit on a page based on the amount of text and the document formatting. As new data is added to a page, Word creates automatic page breaks, also known as soft page breaks. To force data to a new page, a user can insert a manual (hard) page break. Inserting a page break moves the text after the insertion point to the next page. To insert a page break, press Ctrl + Enter or click Page Break from the Insert tab. To remove manual page breaks, utilize the Show/Hide button to display formatting marks, such as the Page Break mark: 

    Page Break

    To remove a hard page break, place the insertion point to the left of the page break and press the Delete key. Word will re-paginate itself, and move data to the previous page.

    This page titled 3.8: Setting Page Orientation and Margins is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcus Lacher (Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.