Apply Left, Center, Right or Justify Alignment to Text in Microsoft Word

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated April 13, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)

You can align or justify text or other content in Word in several ways including using keyboard shortcuts, selecting commands in the Ribbon, using the Paragraph dialog box or modifying a style. It's important to note that alignment or justification is paragraph formatting so applies to entire paragraphs. You can align text or inline graphics in paragraphs that are followed by a hard return (you pressed Enter or Return).

To see where paragraphs have been created in a Word document, it's helpful to turn on Show/Hide ¶ on the Home tab in the Ribbon.

In this article, we'll review 4 different ways to change horizontal alignment or justification in Word documents.

Recommended article: How to Insert a Line in Word (3+ Ways)

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There are 4 types of alignment that can be applied to paragraphs:

  • Align left – aligns text or inline graphics with the left margin or indent
  • Center – centers text or inline graphics between the left and right margins or indents
  • Align right – aligns text or inline graphics with the right margin or indent
  • Justify – distributes text evenly between the left and right margins or indents

A paragraph aligns within the indents (indent markers appear on the Ruler). The indents may be different from the margins. Paragraphs are also entered in cells in tables and each paragraph in a cell may have different indents and alignment settings.

1. Align or justify using keyboard shortcuts

To align or justify paragraphs using keyboard shortcuts:

  • Align left – select the paragraph(s) and press Ctrl + L to align to the left.
  • Align right – select the paragraph(s) and press Ctrl + R to align to the right.
  • Align center – select the paragraph(s) and press Ctrl + E to align center.
  • Justify – select the paragraph(s) and press Ctrl + J to justify.

2. Align or justify using the Ribbon

To align or justify paragraphs using the Word Ribbon

  1. Select the paragraph(s) to which you want to apply alignment or justification. If you would like to select all paragraphs, press Ctrl + A.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon and then click Align Left, Center, Align Right or Justify in the Paragraph group.

Align and Justify commands appear on the Home tab in the Ribbon in the Paragraph group:

Align commands in Word including left, center, right and justify.

3. Align or justify using the Paragraph dialog box

To align or justify paragraphs using the Paragraph dialog box:

  1. Select the paragraph(s) to which you want to apply alignment or justification. If you would like to select all paragraphs, press Ctrl + A.
  2. Right-click and select Paragraph. The Paragraph dialog box appears.
  3. From the Alignment drop-down menu, select Left, Center, Right or Justify.
  4. Click OK.

You can also display the Paragraph dialog box by clicking the Home tab in the Ribbon and then clicking the dialog box launcher on the bottom right of the Paragraph group.

The Paragraph dialog box includes a drop-down menu to select Alignment:

Paragraph dialog box in Word with commands to align or justify text.

4. Align or justify by modifying a style

When you create a new blank document, it starts out using the Normal style which contains default paragraph and character formatting.

If you want to apply alignment or justification to multiple paragraphs throughout a document (such as a heading), you can modify a style (such as Heading 1).

To change the alignment for a heading style (such as Heading 1):

  1. Click in a paragraph using the heading style (typically applied through the Home tab in the Ribbon).
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Styles group, right-click the heading style. A dialog box appears.
  4. Click Format. A drop-down menu appears.
  5. Click Paragraph. The Paragraph dialog box appears.
  6. From the Alignment drop-down menu, select Center or your preferred alignment.
  7. Click OK twice.

Below is the Modify Style dialog box with align and justify commands:

Modify style dialog box in Word with commands to align or justify text.

There may be issues if you modify alignment or justification in the Normal style since other styles are based on this style by default. Cells in tables would likely be affected and so would other styles that are based on the Normal style (such as Header, Footer and Heading styles). Paragraphs using these styles would then inherit the alignment or justification (unless alignment or justification has been specifically modified in these styles). If you are comfortable using styles, you could create your own style or modify a different Word style to avoid this issue.

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Summary
How to Align or Justify Text in Word (4 Ways with Shortcuts)
Article Name
How to Align or Justify Text in Word (4 Ways with Shortcuts)
Description
You can align or justify text or other content in Word in several ways including using keyboard shortcuts, selecting commands in the Ribbon, using the Paragraph dialog box or modifying a style. It's important to note that alignment or justification is paragraph formatting so applies to entire paragraphs. You can align text or inline graphics in paragraphs that are followed by a hard return (you pressed Enter or Return).
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Avantix Learning

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