Vertical Lines in Word
Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Vertical Lines in Word.
For some documents you may have a need to insert vertical lines. There are actually four or five ways you can do this in Word. The actual method you choose depends on your document needs and which appeals to you the most. The first method involves drawing a line:
- Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
- Click the Shapes tool and then click one of the line shapes from the Line group. The mouse pointer changes to a crosshair that looks like a large plus sign.
- Click at one end of where you want your line, but don't release the mouse button.
- Drag the mouse to where you want the other end of the line positioned.
- Release the mouse button.
The second method involves using bar tab stops. You can see how these appear by following these steps:
- Select the paragraph or paragraphs that you want to contain vertical bars.
- Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
- Click the small icon at the lower-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
- Click the Tabs button, at the lower-left of the dialog box. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.
- In the Tab Stop Position box enter a horizontal measurement that indicates where you want the bar to appear. Thus, if you want it 2 inches from the left margin, you would enter 2 in the box.
- Click on the Bar radio button.
- Click on Set.
- Repeat steps 5 through 7 to set other bar positions.
- Click on OK when you are done.
Another method that works well if you want the line to appear beside a paragraph is to use borders:
- Place the insertion point within a paragraph of text or, if preferred, select the entire paragraph.
- Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
- Click the down-arrow next to the Borders tool, in the Paragraph group. Word displays a drop-down list of options.
- Choose the Left Border or Right Border option, as desired. Word adds the border to either the left or right side of the paragraph, as appropriate.
If you have multiple columns in your document and you want vertical lines between the columns, you can follow these steps:
- Select the text that you want in columns. (If you don't do this step, then your entire section or document will be formatted into columns.)
- Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon.
- Click the Columns tool in the Page Setup group and then click More Columns. Word displays the Columns dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2. The Columns dialog box.
- Specify the number of columns into which you want the text formatted.
- Make sure the Line Between check box is selected.
- Click on OK.
The final way to create vertical lines is to use tables. While this may seem a bit convoluted, it will work great for small sections of text. To use this method, follow these general steps:
- Create a table that has a single row but as many columns as you want your text divided into.
- Select the table.
- Make sure the Design tab of the ribbon is displayed.
- Click the Borders tool (in the Table Styles group) and then choose No Border.
- Again click the Borders tool and then choose Inside Vertical Border.
- Enter your text in each cell of the table.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9503) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Vertical Lines in Word.
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Comments for this tip:
Nancy 10 Mar 2015, 14:06
The first suggestion makes a fine line, but my Smart Art program recognizes its shapes, but not its lines, so that the line I draw remains blue. Can't find a way to change color; wonder if my program is somehow incomplete.
Ken Endacott 30 Dec 2014, 06:02
The different types of lines have different uses.
Bar tabs and line shapes are at a specific position on the page and can pass through text and in-line pictures. The other line types have word wrap at the line.
Bar tabs and column lines are one point black whereas the others can be any thickness color and pattern.
Carolyn 29 Dec 2014, 12:38
I agree with Ken. The results from the bar tab method aren't worth the time it takes to set it up.
Surendera M. Bhanot 29 Dec 2014, 05:22
The best one is using the 'Border and Shading' Tool in 'Paragraph' Group on the Home Tab on the ribbon. It gives you all the flexibility that you require, colour, weightage and the styles etc. I use it a lot and it really pop-up your document.
Ken Endacott 29 Dec 2014, 00:13
The bar tab method also gives only a black one point line.
Maryland, USA 27 Dec 2014, 09:41
It's a shame that if you want to use a recurring line between columns, Word wont' let you choose its color, thickness, or style. To paraphrase Henry Ford's boast about the Model T, "You can choose any color, style, and thickness you want, as long as it's black, 1 point, and solid."
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