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How to Change Margins in Word? [For Students]

May 9, 2024

As an editor, understanding page formatting is key, especially when preparing documents for print or online publication. When I first started editing, I encountered challenges with formatting, particularly when trying to adjust margins for printed articles. If you're working on a paper, thesis, or essay, and need to print it for submission, but the formatting in the preview version doesn't align with your requirements. In this guide, I'll show you how to change margins in Word so they fit your formatting, ensuring your document looks just right for printing.

How to Change Margins in Word For students

APA & MLA & Chicago Styles of Margins

Formatting a research paper consistently is crucial for academic success.  Among the essential elements of formatting is setting the margins correctly. Here's a closer look at how APA, MLA, and Chicago styles handle margins:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) style:

One-inch margins are the standard on all sides of the paper (top, bottom, left, and right). This creates a clean and balanced layout that facilitates readability and allows for instructor comments in the margins.

APA style margins

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style:

Similar to APA, MLA also recommends one-inch margins on all sides of the paper. This consistency ensures a professional presentation and promotes a reader-friendly experience.

MLA style margins

  • Chicago (Chicago Manual of Style) style:

Chicago offers a bit more flexibility compared to APA and MLA. It allows for one-inch margins or larger margins. While one inch is perfectly acceptable, some instructors or publishers might prefer slightly larger margins, such as 1.25 inches. This extra space can enhance readability, especially for longer or complex documents.

Chicago style margins

While Microsoft Office Word is often the go-to choice for students, WPS Office offers a convenient alternative, especially when it comes to printing and formatting documents. In this demonstration, I'll use WPS Office to show you how to achieve the same results you would with Word. WPS Office is a free software compatible with all Word document versions, and it even allows you to convert your papers to PDF format without sacrificing formatting. Whether you're using a mobile device, Windows, or Mac, WPS Office ensures seamless compatibility and efficient document management.

Change Margins on the View Tab?

The first method we'll explore involves using the ruler, which can be enabled from the view tab. This method is recommended only when you're dealing with short documents, such as class assignments or short survey reports. If you're wondering how to see the margins in Word, this method will help you. With the ruler enabled, margins are visible and adjusted accordingly.

Step 1: Open your academic document in WPS Writer, which you need to quickly adjust margins for.

Step 2: If the ruler is not enabled in the WPS Writer interface, visit the "View" tab and then check the "Ruler" checkbox to enable it.

Enable Ruler in WPS Writer

Step 3: Now, press "Ctrl + A" to select the entire document, or if you need to set margins for different pages, use your cursor to select the preferred pages.

Step 4: Once the text has been selected, move your cursor to the horizontal ruler, and slide the ruler left or right to adjust the margins.

Slide the ruler in WPS Writer to adjust Margins

Step 5: Once the margins have been set, format the document if any formatting errors occur due to the changing margins of pages.

Adjusted margin using Ruler in WPS Writer

Change Margins on the Layout Tab

Margins can also be custom set using the layout tab in WPS Writer. This method usually comes in handy for me when I'm writing reports or thesis for a course where I need to follow an academic style. So, if you're stuck with a thesis and looking for how to set or adjust margins in Word on the internet, don't worry, I've got you covered! Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Launch WPS Writer and open the academic document for which you need custom margins.

Step 2: Head over to the Page Layout tab in the toolbar, and then click on "Margins" to view the pre-set margins.

Margins button in WPS Writer

Step 3: In the Margins drop-down menu, select from Normal, Narrow, Moderate, or Wide margins for your academic work.

Pre-set Margins in WPS Writer

Step 4: If you wish to set custom margins, WPS Writer gives students quick access to set their custom margins in the Page Layout ribbon.

Custom Margins in WPS Writer

Note: Make sure to change the unit of measurement while setting up margins.

Change Margins when Printing

Short on time to submit a hard copy of your work to the instructor? WPS Writer provides a solution for such situations as well, allowing students to adjust margins or even set them according to their academic style right before printing the document.

Step 1: So, let's open the document in WPS Writer that we want to print after adjusting the margins.

Step 2: Once the document is open, click on the "Menu" button at the top left corner.

Step 3: Now, hover over the "Print" option in the menu and then select "Print Preview" from the flyout menu.

Open Print Preview in WPS Writer

Step 4: In the print preview, go to the "Page Margins" field and click to expand margin options.

Page Margins in Print Preview

Step 5: In the dropdown, students can select from one of the pre-set margins in WPS Writer.

Step 6: If you want to set custom margins, click on "Custom Margins.." to open the Page Setup dialog.

Preset and Custom Margins in Print Preview

Step 7: In the Page Setup dialog, students can define the page margins they want for their entire document to be printed. Once all the margins have been entered, press "OK".

Set Custom Margins in Print Preview

Step 8: Now that you have adjusted or set up the page margins of your document, press "Enter" on your keyboard to print the document.

Print Document on WPS Writer

With WPS Writer, adjusting or setting margins for your academic documents becomes hassle-free. With three different methods to choose from, I would recommend choosing the ruler method only when the margin conditions are not set by your instructor, as accuracy of margins is an issue. Using the ruler, students can adjust margins to alter the page length and width and also determine how many pages they want to fit their work. However, for reports or theses where margins need to be set according to academic styles, this method can lead to negative marking.

With custom margins, students can align their work with the preferred academic style, with the only drawback being that it might take up some time. So, if you plan to use this method, make sure to do it timely to avoid any last-minute stress.

I would only suggest the printing method when you're running late because it could lead to formatting errors ruining the look of the entire document, so be careful with this one.

Bonus Tips: Convert Word to PDF without Losing Format

Formatting a document according to specific styles like MLA, APA, or Chicago can be tricky, especially if you're not familiar with their unique requirements. It becomes even more daunting when, after putting in the effort to get everything just right, you need to convert the document to PDF. A single misstep can lead to hours of reformatting. To avoid this headache, consider using WPS Office and its WPS PDF tool for conversion. With WPS Office, you can maintain your carefully crafted formatting, ensuring your document looks just as you intended after conversion. This not only preserves your work but also makes sharing much easier. Plus, WPS Office's intuitive interface helps you stay organized and focused on your content rather than worrying about technical glitches.


Here is how students can save their work as a PDF in WPS Writer, avoiding any formatting errors that may arise during conversion.

Step 1: Open the Word document in WPS Writer that you want to convert into a PDF.

Step 2: Click on the Menu button located at the top left corner of WPS Writer's interface.

Step 3: In the menu, select "Export to PDF" to open the export to PDF dialog box.

WPS Writer Export to PDF option in Menu

Step 4: Now, in the Export Type field, select "Common PDF" and then click on "Export to PDF".

WPS Writer Export to PDF

Your PDF file is now saved. To view it, simply open it with WPS PDF, your true all-in-one office suite that fulfills all your needs.

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FAQs about Changing Margins in Word

1. Can I print without margin?

Printing without margins can be useful when you need to maximize the printable area of a page. Adobe Reader provides an option for borderless printing, allowing you to print without margins. Follow the steps below to print without margins using Adobe Reader:

Step 1: Open Adobe Reader and navigate to the "File" tab.

Step 2: Select "Print" from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Choose your printer from the options provided.

Step 4: Click on "Properties" to access the printer settings.

Step 5: Look for the option labeled "Borderless Printing" and select it.

Step 6: Click "OK" to save your settings.

Step 7: Proceed with printing your document without margins.

2. Can I change the margins of just one page in Word?

Yes, for changing the margin of just one page, you have to add a section break to the page first and then change margin for the page.

Step 1: Open the Word document.

Step 2: Go to the page you want to change the margins for.

Step 3: Place the cursor on the specific page.

Step 4: Select Insert > Sections & Pages > Break > Section Break > Next Page.

Step 5: Navigate to Page Setup > Margins.

Step 6: Click Custom Margins.

Step 7: Adjust the margins for the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the page using the up and down arrows or by typing specific values.

Step 8: Click OK to apply the custom margins to the selected page.

3. How to change margins in Word without moving the header?

Step 1: Open your document in Microsoft Word.

Step 2: Double-click on the header area of the document to activate the header section.

Step 3: The Header & Footer Tools tab will appear automatically. If not, ensure that you're on the "Design" tab, and the Header & Footer Tools tab should be displayed.

Step 4: In the "Position" group on the Header & Footer Tools tab, locate the "Header from Top" option.

Step 5: Click on the "Header from Top" dropdown menu and select the desired measurement unit (e.g., inches or centimeters).

Step 6: Enter the new value for the distance between the top of the page and the header content. For example, entering "0.25" would set the header 0.25 inches from the top of the page.

Step 7: Press Enter or click outside the header area to apply the changes.

Step 8: To verify the changes, you can scroll down through the document to ensure that the header position has been adjusted accordingly.

Step 9: If you need to make further adjustments, repeat the process by double-clicking on the header area and modifying the "Header from Top" value as needed.

Step 10: Once you're satisfied with the header position, you can continue editing or close the header by double-clicking outside the header area or clicking on the "Close Header and Footer" button on the Header & Footer Tools tab.

Effortless Margin Adjustments for Students

Margins are crucial for maintaining a clean and professional appearance in your documents. If you're following a specific format, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, knowing how to change margins in Word is not just optional; mandatory. WPS Office makes it incredibly simple to set and adjust margins, ensuring your work meets the required standards. Plus, WPS Office makes sharing and converting files a breeze, so you can focus on your content without worrying about technical issues. If you're a student, give WPS Office a try and see if it suits your needs. WPS Office is free to download, so you have nothing to lose!

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.