Adjust font spacing — both vertical and horizontal

How many times have you had text in a textbox, placeholder, or shape that just didn’t fit properly? It happens to everyone.

Luckily, you have lots of options.

Resize the shape

Sometimes you can resize the shape. Especially if it’s a textbox or placeholder with no border, the change might not be apparent. Here you see a slide title in a text placeholder. It never looks good to have one word wrap on a second line. So you can drag the right side of the placeholder until the word fits on the first line. But the right margin is now a little tight.

powerpoint-tips-adjust-font-spacing-1   powerpoint-tips-adjust-font-spacing-2

Reword the title

Actually, one of the best techniques is to edit the text so that it fits. Always consider editing as an option. Here’s the same slide with slightly modified text.


Adjust character spacing

Another option is to change the spacing between the characters. Select the text. Then, on the Home tab, in the Font group, click the Character Spacing’s down arrow and choose an option, such as Tight. (If the image below looks strange, that’s because I took the screenshot in the pre-release version of PowerPoint 2013.)


It’s hard to tell the difference, isn’t it?

If you want finer control, you can choose More Spacing to open the Font dialog box with the Character Spacing tab on top.

There, you can choose Condensed from the Spacing drop-down list and type a value in points. Click OK. A point is 1/72 of an inch, but it’s hard to know the result in advance; you just have to try various settings.

Change the line spacing

Sometimes, you can change the spacing between the lines of text. For example, on the left, the text doesn’t fit well in the arrow. Changing the line spacing helps it to fit better.

powerpoint-tips-adjust-font-spacing-6  powerpoint-tips-adjust-font-spacing-7

To change the line spacing,

  1. Select the text.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Line Spacing button, then choose Line Spacing Options.
  3. In the Paragraph dialog box’s Spacing section, click the Line Spacing drop-down list and choose Exactly.
  4. In the At textbox, lower the value slightly.
  5. Click OK.


You may have to try a few times with different values to get the best result. You don’t want the lines of text to be too close together.

What is your favorite technique for getting text to fit in a tight space?


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6 comments to Adjust font spacing — both vertical and horizontal

  • Dr. Debby

    Changing line spacing was much easier in some earlier versions of PowerPoint. You selected your text and then clicked an up arrow to increase spacing or a down arrow to reduce it. Best of all, you could see the changes at that moment. Wouldn’t it be great if they returned that feature?

    A trick I use to fit text into a shape is to right click the text, go to “format shape,” and change the left and right margins to 0.

    Best wishes, Ellen, for a wonderful New Year!

  • Ellen, I often repost your “Tips”, especially when it’s especially enlightening : ) This time, I learned about “character spacing”….duh! Thank you! And I’m currently scheduled to be in Tampa around 2/26. Let me know if that’s anywhere near where you’re going to be, and we’ll get together for coffee.

  • Debby,
    Thanks for mentioning that margin tip. I almost put it in this post, but decided that it wasn’t about changing font spacing. Also, I have an older tip on it at You’re right — that’s often my go-to method of fitting more text in a shape.

  • Dr. Laura

    I find that the standard single line spacing often looks too spread out. Instead, I’ll set my slide masters for a narrower spacing. Whether it’s in the master, or in an individual text box, use the paragraph icon pull down menu to get to the dialogue box (as in your example above) and set line spacing to “Multiple”, then enter .8. This gives you more flexibility than the “Exactly” option, because spacing will stay proportionate when you change font size. I find that .8 works well for most fonts, but you may need to adjust this number for some of the less common fonts.

  • Quite handy tips.

    More often than not, we all find ourselves struggling with the text design in PowerPoint. These will be useful set of rules and tools.


    – Akash
    authorSTREAM Team

  • Michelle

    This is really helpful. I have a question about spacing of fonts. I need a divider page with a large number and when I increase the font size Power Point seems to add a lot of space above and below the number. I’ve tried working on the text box, internal margins are set to zero, changing the font, reducing character spacing, looked at kerning and nothing seems to remove the space below and above the font. Any idea how I can make this work?

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