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How to Double Space in Word for Your Essay: A Guide for Students

April 18, 2024

If you are a student working on an important essay, you would know how crucial formatting truly is, as a significant grade can be impacted by it if you don't comply with the formatting guidelines. Even if you weren't mindful of it before, you should prioritize it now. Many colleges require essays to be submitted in MLA or APA format, which necessitates double spacing among other specifications. In this article, we will explore the major formatting styles and explain how to double space in Word for your essay to ensure your formatting adheres to the standards.

Double Space in Word for Your Essay

Double-Space in APA and MLA Format

Double spacing is a requirement for both APA and MLA formats, the two most popular styles used for essays in academic writing. Here's why:

Improved Readability: Double spacing creates a clear visual distinction between lines of text, making your essay easier to read and follow.

Facilitates Editing and Feedback: Instructors (and you!) can easily add comments or edits between lines without overcrowding the document.

Standardization: Double spacing ensures consistency across different essays and disciplines, allowing for a professional appearance.

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Examples of Double Spacing in APA and MLA Formats:

Here are some examples of double spacing in APA and MLA formats:

APA Formatting Guide:

  1. The entire document is double-spaced.

  2. The margins are one inch on all sides.

  3. Each paragraph in the body text starts with a hanging indent (the first line remains flush left, while subsequent lines are indented half an inch).

  4. The title is centered at the top of the page, followed by your name and institution information centered below.

  5. The font is 12-point throughout.

  6. Page numbers appear in the upper right corner of each page.

APA formatting

MLA Formatting Guide:

  1. The entire document is double-spaced.

  2. The margins are one inch on all sides.

  3. Each paragraph in the body text starts with a half-inch indent.

  4. The title is centered at the top of the page, followed by your name, instructor's name, course name, and date (all left-aligned in a block format).

  5. The font is Times New Roman 12-point throughout.

  6. There are no page numbers on the first page, but subsequent pages have page numbers placed in the upper right corner.

MLA formatting

Remember: While these are general guidelines, always refer to your specific assignment instructions for any variations in formatting requirements.

Preparing Double Spacing in Word Before You Start Writing Your Essay

There are specific formatting standards that students are generally required to follow when submitting their essays, one of which includes double-spacing in Word. As I will demonstrate to you on how to do double spacing in Word you will learn to maintain consistent formatting throughout your document.

I'll demonstrate using WPS Office because it is a free suite and ultimately the best option for students. It's compatible with all Word document versions and can even convert your papers to PDF without losing formatting, allowing you to follow along regardless of whether you are using Windows, Mac, or Android.

Using the Home ribbon

Let's take a look at the first method, which is available in the home tab and is relatively quicker to perform.

Step 1: Open WPS Office on your system. Remember, WPS Office is available for both MAC and Windows, making it an easier option to work with.

Step 2: Now, let's create a new document. Click on "New" in the left panel.

WPS Office create New option in left panel

Step 3: Next, click on "Docs" located in the left panel, followed by "Blank", to create a new blank document on WPS Office.

WPS Office create New blank document

Step 4: You will now have a fresh new document open on WPS Writer. To format our document to double space, click on "Home" in the ribbon menu.

Step 5: Next, click on the "Line Spacing" icon, which is a double arrow with horizontal lines.

WPS Office Line Spacing icon

Step 6: Now, the line spacing option is available in the drop-down menu. Click on "2.0" to set the line spacing as double.

WPS Office Double line spacing

And that's it! Your new document has now been formatted for both your APA style essays or MLA style. Using WPS Office has its benefits. It provides software compatible for both Mac and Windows, which reduces the likelihood of glitches or crashes compared to Microsoft Word, which is not compatible with MacOS.

Additionally, it allows users to save their files on the cloud. So, if you need to make changes to your document on the go, they are easily available. Plus, if you need to work on the go, you might be using your handheld device, and luckily, WPS Office is available on both Android and iOS for free.

Using the Context menu

The second option involves opening a few other dialog boxes, but the special feature of this method is that if you're formatting your document from scratch, you can also format indentation or alignment using the same steps.

Step 1: So, we have our new blank document open in WPS Office, currently formatted with single spacing.

Step 2: Let's right-click anywhere on the document to open the context menu, and then click on "Paragraph".

WPS Office Context Menu

Step 3: Now, we have the Paragraph dialog open. Go to the "Line spacing" field and change the Line spacing to "Double".

WPS Office Double Line Spacing in Paragraph settings

Step 4: To exit the paragraph settings, click on "OK" to return to your document and start working on your essay.

WPS Office exit Paragraph settings

How to Double-Space in Word for Your Written Essay

You've completed your essay but can't seem to find how to double space it? Often, when students try to double space using any method, only the current paragraph where their cursor is located gets double spaced, and it's due to a simple error. So let's see how to double space in Word in a written essay.

Since we are using WPS Office to demonstrate the steps, it would be wise to download and perform these steps on WPS Office to ensure that there is no confusion or error.

Step 1: So, first of all, we'll open our written essay in WPS Office. To do this, simply open WPS Office and click on "Docs" in the left panel.

WPS Office Docs

Step 2: Now, click on "Open" and browse for your written essay document. Whether you've created your document in a writing software like MS Word, it will open in WPS Office because it is compatible with all document formats.

WPS Office open Document

Step 3: Once the document is open, you need to press the "Ctrl + A" shortcut key to ensure that the entire document is selected.

WPS Office select entire document using shortcut key

Note: If you skip this step, the double space formatting won't be applied to the entire document.

Step 4: Now, simply click on the "Home" tab and head over to the "Line Spacing" option in the home ribbon.

WPS Office Line Spacing in Home ribbon

Step 5: Since we need our document to be double spaced, we will click on "2.0" to change our line spacing to double-space.

WPS Office formatting Essay to Double Line spacing

Step 6: Make sure to save your document either by using the shortcut key; "Ctrl + S", or by visiting the Menu option in the top left corner and clicking on "Save" to save your work.

WPS Office Save document

As a student, it's important to understand these small details while formatting documents because essays and assignments are crucial. Having an easy-to-use writing software like WPS Office can make a whole world of difference.

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Shortcuts for Double Spacing in Word

How to Double-Space in Word: Keyboard Shortcuts

While there are several ways to double-space your text in Word, keyboard shortcuts offer a quick and efficient method. Here are the shortcuts for both Windows and Mac users:

Windows: Press Ctrl + 2.

Mac: Press Command + 2.

Bonus Tip: How to Convert Word to PDF Without Losing Formatting

WPS Office is an exceptional office suite, offering everything from word processing to presentations and spreadsheets. It's particularly beneficial for students, providing them with the tools they need to create documents effortlessly, which they can then use for their academic pursuits. Committed to delivering an optimal experience for students, WPS Office is not only free but also user-friendly, making it a preferred choice. It's also incredibly lightweight, requiring minimal storage space.

WPS Office

Formatting essays can often be a hassle, especially when converting them to Word, where formatting is frequently lost. However, WPS Office addresses this issue with its robust PDF features, seamlessly converting essays into PDF format with ease. With WPS Office, students across all disciplines can streamline their academic tasks and enhance their productivity.

Here is how students can convert their written essays or any document to PDF using WPS Office, without the need for any additional software:

Step 1: Open your document in WPS Office and go to the Menu button in the top left corner of the screen.

Step 2: Hover over or click on the "Save as" option and then select "More formats" in the flyout menu.

WPS Office More Formats

Step 3: Now, with the Save as dialog open, go to the "File Type" field and select .PDF as the file format.

WPS Office Change file type

Step 4: Students can change the name of their file in the "File Name" field and then hit "Save" to save their document as a PDF.

WPS Office save document as PDF

FAQs about Double Spacing in Word

1. How to change the line spacing to single in Word?

Following these simple steps will help you change the line spacing to single in Microsoft Word:

Step 1: Let's open the document in Microsoft Word in which we need to change the line spacing.

Step 2: If you have already worked on your document and need to change its formatting, it's important to first select all the contents of the document. To select everything in the document, simply use the "CTRL + A" shortcut key.

Microsoft Word select all in document

Note: If this is a blank document, there's no need to select anything.

Step 3: Now, to change the line spacing, click on the "Home" tab on the Microsoft Word ribbon.

Step 4: In the Home ribbon, find the "Paragraph" section. This is where the "Line and Paragraph Spacing" icon is located, so click on it.

Microsoft Word Line and Paragraph Spacing

Step 5: A drop-down menu will open. To set your document to single spacing, click on the "1.0" option, and your document will be formatted according to single spacing.

Microsoft Word Single Line Spacing

2. Should I double space the entire essay?

Yes, according to APA guidelines (2020), double spacing is recommended for the entire paper, encompassing the title page, abstract, main text, headings, block quotes, reference list, table and figure annotations, and appendices. Nonetheless, this guideline doesn't apply to the table body and figure imagery, footnotes, and presented mathematical expressions.

3. Are university essays typically double spaced?

Yes, university essays often use double spacing. However, it’s essential to follow your professor’s guidelines. They usually specify formatting preferences, including spacing and font choices. Always review instructions carefully to ensure your work aligns with the required standards.


Word is a great tool for writing your student assignments, but students' efficiency and easy to use tools at hand ultimately get great grades. For instance it is quite a hassle learning how to double space in Word for your essay. WPS Office delivers all of that with its Writer tool and integrated PDF tool.

Here, you can edit and print with ease, not to mention the formatting is completely easy to manage. Not to mention, the formatting is perfectly preserved when converting to PDF or sharing the file. Download WPS Office today to experience hassle-free formatting so you can focus more on your work and less on formatting!

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