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Last week, one of our community members on the OneNote fan page on Facebook asked a great question:
"How do you double space an article you pasted into OneNote? For the life of me, I can't find an option for that and since it is a legal cite and court opinion, it would be easier to read if I can double space it."
While many of us simply use the ENTER key between lines of text to create more space, imported text whose lines you don't want to manually break apart is indeed better formatted with double or custom line spacing. This way, the text is always properly spaced the way you want it, even when you resize its note container.
The Paragraph Spacing Options command is one of the few features in OneNote that has only a single entry point, which can be accessed only on the ribbon. It's therefore often overlooked.
Follow these steps:
In the Paragraph Spacing dialog box that opens, enter the spacing values (in points) that you want.
OneNote isn't a word processor, so the values in the Paragraph Spacing dialog box work a little differently than they do in Microsoft Word and other programs. For example, if you were to type a 2 into any of the three boxes (with the intention that the value of 2 doubles the current single-line spacing), nothing would happen to the spacing of your text. That's because you need to enter the total number (in points) for both the current font size and its intended line spacing (in typography, this is called leading).
The default text formatting in OneNote 2010 is 11-point Calibri, which means entering a 2 won't do anything to increase this base number. However, anything over 11 will begin to show an increase in the space between your lines of text.
If you haven't changed the default font from Calibri and the default font size from 11, you can enter the number 27 into the Line spacing at least box to exactly double-space this font and size combination. If you're using another font or font size, simply experiment a bit until you get the spacing just the way you want.
To discard a result you don't want and to start over, use the Undo command on the Quick Access Toolbar (or just press CTRL+Z).
The values for the Before and After boxes in the Paragraph Spacing dialog box work the same as I mentioned earlier. However, their behavior may lead to more puzzling results, depending on the formatting of your text.
Unlike Word, which lets you show hidden paragraph marks in your selected text, OneNote has no such option. If certain lines of text in your selection are formatted with soft line breaks (SHIFT+ENTER), then OneNote treats the text as part of the same paragraph. In this case, spacing is affected only before or after the entire block (paragraph) of text — either before or after a hard paragraph return (ENTER).
If you're commonly in the habit of pressing ENTER between short lines of text in your notes, OneNote will consider each line to be a separate paragraph and therefore apply the line spacing you entered in the Before and/or After boxes. This will then have similar results as entering the same value into the Line spacing at least box.
I mention this because you may not always be aware how imported text was originally formatted at the source. If the result from values you enter in the Paragraph Spacing dialog box doesn't quite match your expectations, simply try other values until you reach the result you want.
If you don't seem to be having any luck with your particular selection of text, try to change one value at a time. If necessary, undo it (even if nothing seemed to happen) and then try another value. Experimenting with all three values at once in the Paragraph Options dialog box may make things more confusing until you get the hang of each of the three spacing options.
Although there is no explicit Show/Hide Formatting command in OneNote like there is in Word, OneNote 2010 does drop a little hint about where it considers a new paragraph to begin. To see this, move the mouse pointer over the left margin of any of your text lines and look for a 4-headed arrow icon to appear next to certain lines of text.
This little icon lets you do all kinds of clever things (most of which are documented in my new book for OneNote beginners), but simply revealing the icons by moving the mouse over your text will show you where the underlying paragraph marks are. To create a new line break within text, press CTRL+ENTER. To create a new hard paragraph, press ENTER within your text.
I hope this tip is useful. Based on your recent feedback in our first-ever OneNote Blog Poll, I plan to shine a light on some of the other hidden features in OneNote in this sort of quick tip format.
As always, we value your feedback, so please leave a comment to let us know if these kinds of posts are helpful and what sorts of features you would like to see covered in a future tip!
-- Michael C. Oldenburg
Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information.
Is there a way to set a default paragraph spacing so that all text I type will always use the settings?
Well, paragraph formatting is a common aspect (IMO anyway) in Word. So if you have a little Word experience then this option should be slightly familiar (in Word 2010 you'll find this in 'Home' as well, in the 'paragraph' section). While this isn't fully true one could say that OneNote "combines" several features which are found in other Office applications. Although differently, considering that OneNote is neither a text processor nor (for example) a presentation program as Powerpoint.
To my knowledge you can't change the standard layouts like you can in Word.
However, if you have a layout you like and want to apply to other sections you can easily copy and paste this. So select a line of text which has your layout, then right click and select "layout copy" (don't know the exact name, its in the "quick tools" section (the pop up appearing besides your standard pop-up menu) in the lower right corner). The icon which looks like a brush. You can also find it in your default 'Home' ribbon; the option at the left side of the ribbon, in the "Clipboard" section (there it too is located in the lower right corner).
Sorry if this may sound a bit confusing but I'm using a localized version of OneNote so have to translate some words, and I don't know for sure if I'm using the official names.
Now; after you've done that it gets easy. Just select the text on which you want to apply this new layout and you're done. That text will immediately get the new layout.
Also; if you want to apply your layout to multiple sections then this is possible too; just double-click the icon I mentioned above. Then as soon as you applied the layout to a section you remain in "layout pasting mode" and can simply select another section of text, and continue to do so untill you press the 'escape' key to exit this mode.
(note that this option also works in Word, its actually one of my favorites).
Hope this helps!
@Cindy K.: Great question. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to save your paragraph spacing preference as a default setting. However, if you'd like to apply your current, preferred paragraph spacing to other parts of your notebook more quickly, you can use the method that ShelLuser described. First select a paragraph that has the line spacing you want, and then double-click the Format Painter button on the Home tab. Next, bring any text into view to which you want to apply the same formatting as your selection and then single-click anywhere within the additional text paragraphs. You can do this repeatedly and even freely switch between pages and sections. When you're done applying your line space formatting to other text paragraphs in your notebook, press the ESC key on your keyboard to get out of Format Painter mode. Thanks for posting a comment and for stopping by to read our blog!
Is there a way to add double space between paragraphs only in OneNote?
@jackshafer: You can add double-spacing between paragraphs in OneNote by entering the appropriate value in the "After" box in the Paragraph Spacing dialog box (for the default font in OneNote, try entering a value of 27 or higher). This feature is not only available in OneNote; you can use it in several other Office programs, too (such as Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.).
Thanks a ton, Michael! That will save me a bundle of time.
great post! i have got the knowledge about double spacing in one note very well. diagrammatic explanations have made it very easy for me to learn.
make it on man!
Stumbled across this, thank you. Had abandoned a sheet as I couldn't work out how to fix.
Thanks for the tips. Can you confirm that "Line spacing at least" and "Snap to Grid" are completely independent and that there's no way to precisely match them? (The small grid and Calibri 11 don't even match when "Line spacing at least" is left at 0).
IMHO, there's really room for improvement in that area... Grid size should be connected to line spacing. Even though the unrestricted aspect of OneNote is great , it also makes it hard to create clean pages. The discrepancy mentioned above, plus the inability to align containers, plus the absence of a simple shortcut to create a new container at the next line tarnish the otherwise great character of OneNote.