Loio’s guide to paragraphs in MS Word

How to edit paragraphs

Let’s imagine that a legal document is a house about to be built. Every building supply, be it a brick or a roof tile, has to be fine and fit in the construction plan. Paragraphs are a good building unit for legal documents. They present a complete thought or statement for reading parties and can be shaped by headings, lists, and numbering.

MS Word has many tools for polishing paragraphs to make your documents even more organized and ready for the next steps. 

In this guide, we will cover the main paragraph settings in Word which work for both macOS and Windows. Let’s start building your legal document paragraph by paragraph, just like a house that is being built brick by brick.

Basic paragraph settings

In MS Word, paragraph settings display the key paragraph components. You can see them above your document right in the middle of Word’s main panel. 



Traditionally paragraphs include list options (bullet points or numbering), indents to increase or decrease, text alignment (left, centered, right, justified), line and paragraph spacing (ranging from 1,0 to 3,0), formatting marks to show or hide, and extra design options for tables and letters. 

Let’s dive into more paragraph settings. On Mac, use a hot keyboard Option + Command + M. If you use Windows, just click in the bottom right corner of the paragraph section. The similar windows of advanced settings on both systems will pop up.

Indents _ Spacing

Indents and Spacing_windows

These settings are of two types 一 Indents and Spacing and Line and Page Breaks

For instance, in the Indents and Spacing section, you can customize numbers for indentation and spacing of paragraphs. The Line and Page Breaks section enables you to paste page break and disable text hyphenation. Just tick the options that you need. Both these types of paragraph settings are available on macOS and Windows.

Line _ Page Breaks

Now let’s shift to tabs, one more essential element to work in paragraphs. There is no need to set tabs manually in the upper ruler above the Word doc. You can find the wanted Tabs settings in the bottom left corner of the expanded paragraph settings. Click it and go for fixing paragraphs with alignment, leader and default stops tools. Any time you are free to clear tab formats.


Paragraph editing and formatting

Having the basic paragraph settings at your fingertips, you can start editing paragraphs with one click. Select the needed paragraph or its part and simply go for text aligning, creating lists, or fixing spaces. It’s pretty familiar and doable on both Mac and Windows 一 see the example of line spacing below.

Line Spacing example

Now moving on to paragraph formatting. For better visibility, in the paragraph section on both OS, click Show formatting marks. If you work on Mac, you’ll see your text marked in blue with special formatting symbols. On Windows, all the formatting marks are black.

Formatting marks

Formatting marks_windows

The “pi number” paragraph marks mean that paragraphs, bullet points in lists, headings, or any other text elements are separated with the Return or Enter button. This move is called Hard return.

Let’s assume that in your doc you need to put, for example, a clause heading and the clause text within one paragraph but in different lines. Commonly you would just press the Return/Enter button and do the Hard return. However, bear in mind that this move is prone to sharply break the paragraph or its prior formatting like in the image below.

Hard return (error)

So how to put the text in different lines within one paragraph and save its formatting?

On both OS, press Shift + Return/Enter. The needed paragraph part will smoothly move to the next line without ruining any formats 一 this is how the Soft return option works. Its formatting mark looks like a tiny arrow that you can see on the image below. Now the whole paragraph looks pretty safe and neat.

Soft Return

A bonus tool to paragraph management

After you’re done with editing paragraphs, it’s time to review them. And MS Word has one more helpful tool that makes document finalization quicker and easier. 

To “summon” it, use Shift + Command + H on Mac. Press Ctrl + H on Windows. A Find and Replace managing toolbar will open.

Find and Replace

Find and Replace_windows

As you can see, on Mac and Windows, this toolset looks a bit different. Besides finding and replacing text elements, the macOS version is also focused on document navigating (Thumbnails Pane), tracking its changes (Reviewing Pane), and defined table of contents (Document Map). 

In Word on Windows, you may find, replace and go to certain text elements in independent tabs, including extra options. 

On both Mac and Windows, the Find and Replace feature provides you with a dropdown list of various text characters, marks, digits, and others that you would like to proceed with in the document. On Mac, just click on the same name rows and choose the needed options. 

Find and Replace List

On Windows, you can find this dropdown list in the Special tab beneath the Find and Replace window.

Find and Replace List_windows

The Find and Replace tool is also perfect for searching and modifying specific words and phrases in your document. Let’s find the “Buyer” word. After you type it in the Find and Replace toolbar on Mac, you’ll see all the suitable matches highlighted in the document and their total number. 

Buyer match

On Windows, select the Find tab and fill “Buyer” in the row. To highlight this word in the document, select Breaking Highlight below, then Highlight All. Next, Word will display you all the matching results.

Buyer match_windows

If you want to change a word or phrase, simply fill the current unit in the Find row and the needed unit in the Replace row in the toolbar, and click Replace or Replace All on both OS. 

Paragraphs make legal documents consistent and organized for all reading parties. Besides classic settings in MS Word, you may also discover available extensions or add-ins. If you would like to fix legal documents even smarter and faster, Loio add-in can help you with this job.  

We hope that with this guide you will manage to construct documents as easily as Lego. Do embrace and apply the full Word’s arsenal to accomplish more goals in your daily paperwork!

Get served with quality reads

Sign up for our emails to get a careful monthly selection of our blog articles.

Email address is required. Please enter a valid email address

We're hosting a free webinar on contract drafting best practices on July 8, 7 pm EDT. Join us!