Dealing with Microsoft Word for Grants and Papers Tips/Tricks

How many times have you spent hours (days?) trying to make figures and spacing stay put in Microsoft Word when space is tight (i.e. for a grant or paper submission)?
Here are a few tips and tricks that I have found and compiled. Use them at your own risk and good luck!

  1. Window/Orphan Control
    If you have a paragraph that starts at the very bottom of a page, Word will often try to keep the lines of the paragraph all together so that the beginning lines flip onto the next page. If you do not want this to happen, select your entire document, then go to:
    Format, Paragraph, Line and Page Breaks tab, UNCHECK Window/Orphan control box
  2. Spacing within & between paragraphs
    Often time there are font size requirements and the requirement for how many lines per inch there are, but you can add more white space between paragraphs without adding a whole new line. You can also use a little less than a full space between the lines within a paragraph. Over pages, those spaces add up.
    Format, Paragraph, Indents and Spacing tab, Examples:
    Spacing Before, 6pt
    Line Spacing, Exactly, 10pt (assuming your font is 11pt)
  3. Figures & Legends (and making them stay put)
    There are a few steps, but it will eliminate hassle later.


    1. Insert your figure and make it the size you want it
    2. Insert a figure legend and edit the text to have it say what you want
    3. Insert a separate text box that is exactly as wide as your figure, and the height of your figure + legend. Draw a rough text box and then do the following:
      1. Right click, Format Shape…
      2. Text Box: Set the Internal Margin to zero on all sides
      3. Size: set the height and width there. If you need to know the height and width of your original image and legend, you can go to the same screen on the original items.
      4. Layout: Wrapping Style – Square, Horizontal Alignment – either Right or Left
        1. Advanced …
        2. Position Tab: Do not try to drag around your figure to be where you want it. Set exactly where you want it to be relative to the start of the paragraph or bottom or top of the page etc. It will be infinitely easier to control.
        3. Text Wrapping Tab: You can decrease the Left and Right amount
    4. Cut the original figure and paste it in your new text box. Make sure the figure is set to be in line with text.
    5. Go into the original figure legend and copy the text as text (including the special Figure ## field) and paste it as text into the new, larger text box.
    6. Adjust the height of the container text box so that it just fits the figure and legend if needed