Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Lines are a basic design element. In Microsoft Word, a horizontal or vertical line can divide a document and guide the flow of the text. You can insert a line in Word and format it in different ways to change a humble line into something more appealing.
You do know how to add a line in Word. It’s so simple after all. But if you don’t know all the ways to do it, then this primer is for you.
Let’s find out how to insert a horizontal and vertical line in Word, and the few ways we know to draw them.
The Quick Way: How to Insert a Line in Word With the Keyboard
Did you know that you can quickly add a line in Word by typing a few characters? Word’s AutoFormat feature types stuff for you as you type it. You may have already seen it in action when it creates automatic bulleted lists.
You can not only insert a line but also add lines with different designs. Here’s how it works:
Place the cursor in the spot where you would like to start your horizontal line.
Then, type three characters for any of the possible line styles you see in the screenshot below. Press Enter.
For example, to draw a dotted line, type *** and press Enter.
As you will see, you will get six variations of the standard horizontal line.
- Plain single line with three hyphens (—)
- Broken or dotted line with three asterisks (***)
- Plain double line with three equal signs (===)
- Bold single line with three underline symbols (___)
- Triple line with a thick center with Three number signs (###)
- Wavy line with three tildes (~~~)
The line takes up the entire width of the page. When added inside a column, the line is inserted to match the width of the column. If you want to add text above or below the line, put your cursor where you want the text and begin typing.
You will also notice a tiny AutoCorrect Options button pop up next to the line. This is a shortcut that allows you to undo the automatic line when you don’t need it, stop them altogether, or dive into the AutoFormat options dialog.
You can turn off these lines permanently from the AutoFormat options dialog.
Go to AutoFormat As You Type tab > Apply as you type section > uncheck Border lines.
Insert a Horizontal Line From the Ribbon
If you find AutoCorrect annoying and disabled the option, there’s another quick way to add a horizontal line.
1. Place your cursor where you want to insert the line.
2. Go to the Home tab and then click the dropdown arrow for the Borders option in the Paragraph group.
3. Select Horizontal Line from the menu.
4. To tweak the look of this horizontal line, double-click the line. The Format Horizontal Line dialog box enables you to modify the width, height, color, and alignment of the line.
5. To resize a line, select the line with a double click and then drag any of the resizing points to change the length or width.
6. To remove the line, select it and press Delete on your keyboard.
Use Borders to Add Horizontal and Vertical Lines
The Borders option in the Paragraph group also gives you another way to insert a top or bottom border that resembles a horizontal line in the document.
1. Click on the paragraph of text where you want the line to appear.
2. Got to Home and the Paragraph group. Click on the Border button. The Bottom border is usually the default. This places a line below the text you have selected on the page or the paragraph if you haven’t selected any text.
3. For other options (like a vertical border), you can click on the tiny dropdown arrow on the Borders button to access a list of options.
4. To change the look of any border, click on Borders and Shading. Use the dialog to adjust the style, color, and width of the border.
5. Deleting this horizontal line in your Word document may not be obvious but it easy enough.
Use Shapes to Insert a Horizontal or Vertical Line in Word
The Shapes menu contains several line options. These line shapes come with one important difference—you can draw them at different angles. Then, after you draw the line, you can customize the color and appearance to make decorative horizontal or vertical lines anywhere in the document.
1. Position the cursor where you want to insert a line.
2. Go to Insert > Illustrations group > Shapes dropdown arrow.
3. In the Lines group, choose the shape of the line.
4. Click and drag across the document with the mouse pressed till the endpoint. (Tip: Hold down the Shift key to insert a straight line that is either horizontal or vertical)
5. Keep the line selected to customize the appearance of the line with the Shape Format tab on the Ribbon.
6. Go to the Shape Styles tab and change the color, use a different line style, or apply effects.
7. You can also right-click on the line and choose Format Shape from the context menu to open more options for changing the look.
How to Add a Vertical Line and Separate Text into Columns
Text arranged into columns is a basic layout technique. You can separate any block of text into multiple columns and also insert a vertical line between them.
1. Select the text.
2. Go to Ribbon > Layout > (Page Setup group) Columns. Click on the dropdown and select the number of columns you want.
3. The text is now arranged into columns. Click on any column and go to Layout > Columns > More Columns.
4. In the Columns dialog box, check the Line Between box and click OK.
Note that you can change the number of columns and the spacing between them from this dialog too.
Use a Bar Tab to Add a Vertical Line
Tab stops in Word help align lines and paragraphs. The bar tab, on the other hand, doesn’t set a tab stop. It inserts a vertical line and demarcates your paragraph into columns.
1. Select the paragraph where you want to add the vertical line.
2. Go to Ribbon > Home. In the Paragraph group click the tiny arrow to open the Paragraph Settings.
3. Click the Tabs button at the bottom of the dialog.
4. In the Tab stop position box, enter the position where you want the vertical line to appear. You can use the ruler at the top of the screen to gauge a value to enter.
5. Click the Bar button in the Alignment section. Click on Set and OK.
As you can see, I have set it to “-0.2” to make it appear just to the left of the first paragraph. To delete the vertical line, delete the bar tab.
Also: Want to make blank lines where the reader can fill in some information? You can use tabs to quickly create empty lines in forms with Microsoft Word.
Draw a Line in Your Word Document
Horizontal lines are more obvious and common. But adding vertical lines at the right place can boost the visual appeal of your content. Lines aren’t mere decorations… they can lead your eye to the most important part of a document when used with subtlety.
Think about lines and use these methods the next time you sit down to write a professional report with Microsoft Word.