How to change Margins in Word 2010

The following step-by-step, illustrated instructions will show you how to change the margins on a document in Microsoft Word 2010. First, I'll provide a quick, text-based overview for those more familiar with Word 2010. Then, I'll provide the step-by-step illustrated version, with extra explanations, after some basic definitions.

Quick Overview

  1. Click on the Page Layout tab.
  2. Click on the Margins icon, then on Custom Margins at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  3. Make sure it says Whole document, unless you know you want only a single section (or the rest of the document) adjusted.
  4. Adjust your margins as necessary in the top section of the dialog box.
  5. Check the values in the other boxes, then double-check that the preview doesn't look weird.
  6. Click OK and you're done!

Some Basic Definitions

Top, Bottom, Left, and Right Margins – Hopefully, to anyone who has gotten through the first few grades of elementary school, these terms are at least relatively self-explanatory. :) They are, of course, relative to the page you are looking at. If you change your orientation from portrait to landscape, or vice versa, the margins are still relative to the page you are looking at—they don't twist with the page, since the content doesn't twist (so the top margin doesn't become the right margin).

Inside and Outside Margins – You won't see these options unless you are formatting a book or booklet. If you are, they will replace left and right margins at the top of the Page Setup dialog box. The inside margin is the side where the pages will be bound, the outside margin is the side where your thumbs probably are when holding a book with two hands.

Gutter – Microsoft has mislabeled the gutter. In true typography, the gutter is the whole blank space between the text facing pages. In Microsoft-world, a gutter is extra space added to the binding edge of the pages. If you're not planning on binding your document, don't worry about the gutter. In fact, even if you are planning on binding your document, you can still ignore the gutter, and just add extra space to the relevant margin!

Gutter Position – This is the side of the page that you plan to bind, if you plan to bind your document. In English documents, we generally bind on the left, unless we are creating a flip-chart. Apparently in Microsoft-world, documents are only bound on the left or top edge of the pages. Perhaps the Japanese (and other) versions of Word allow for a right-hand binding.

Orientation – Another one that I hope is self-explanatory to anyone who has found his or her way to this tutorial. Simply put, it's how you plan to hold the paper, when looking at it in front of you.

Pages – This one isn't really a definition of pages, but that's what it says on the dialog box, so that's what I called it. This section lets you determine whether your page will be a standard "normal" page that you'll print out, or if you'll be printing in a more specialized manner. If you are printing out letters, posters, school papers, or other similar documents, your document is "Normal." If you are formatting a book or booklet, you may wish to select one of the other options, the next most common of which is "Mirror Margins." If you are using mirror margins to print a book, you can set the inside margin wider than the outside and ignore Word's silly misnamed gutter field.

The Illustrated Instructions

Step 1 – Go to Page Layout

Click on the Page Layout tab. It should be the fourth tab from the left, following File, Home, and Insert.

[Screenshot of Microsoft Word 2010, showing the location of the 'Page Layout' tab]
 

Step 2-A – Click on Margins

Click on the Margins icon, it will light up and a drop-down menu will appear.

Step 2-B – Click on Custom Margins

Now click on Custom Margins at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

Tip:

If you're feeling ambitious, you can also just click on the little expansion arrow in the bottom-right corner of that area of the toolbar. That will open the same dialog box.

[Screenshot of Microsoft Word 2010, showing the the Margins menu dropped down]
 

Step 3 - Specify What Part to Change

Now you'll see a pop-up dialog box. If your document has multiple sections, you now need to decide if you want to change the margins for just the section you're in, or for the whole document. If you're a beginner, your document probably only has one section. So look near the bottom of the box and make sure it says Whole document, or whatever you want it to say. The other options are usually This section and This point forward.

Step 4 – Adjust Margins

Adjust your margins as necessary in the top section of the dialog box. Note that Word can only handle two decimal places, so if you want margins that are, for example, 0.875 inch wide, you're out of luck, you can type 0.875 into the box, but Word will automatically adjust it to 0.88 when you click OK.

Step 5 – Check Other Values

Check the values in the other boxes, make sure they look good, Then double-check that the preview doesn't look weird.

Step 6 – Click OK!

Everything look A-OK? Great! Click OK and you're done!

[Screenshot of Microsoft Word 2010's Page Setup dialog box, showing, step-by-step, how to change the margins.]
 
[Screenshot of revised document showing new margins.]