Squeezing text onto fewer pages (WordPerfect and Word, all recent versions)

June 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

If you’ve ever tried to make a document (such as a letter) fit on a single page instead of two pages, you will appreciate the features in WordPerfect that allow you to squeeze text a bit.

CAUTION: These features obviously won’t help much when you’re working on pleadings or other documents that must meet stringent formatting requirements. In general, they compress the text by adjusting margins, line spacing/line height, and/or font size. Because courts and other judicial bodies impose strict rules regarding these document attributes, you should limit the use of these “make it fit” tricks to letters and other documents that aren’t similarly regulated. Applying them to pleadings could result in your document getting “kicked back” by the courts. So do be careful.

Make It Fit

WordPerfect’s Make It Fit feature has been around for a long time. It allows you to manipulate settings for any of all of the following attributes:

  • Font
  • Line spacing
  • Top margin
  • Bottom margin
  • Left margin
  • Right margin

To use the feature, click the Format menu, Make It Fit. When the dialog opens, it will display the current number of pages and a box where you can set the desired number of pages. So, for example, if you are working on a four-page letter and you’d like it to be three pages, you would type the digit “3” (without quotation marks) in the “Desired number of pages” box.

Next, check any or all of the attributes you’d like WordPerfect to adjust in order to make the document fit onto your preferred number of pages. You might want to start by checking only one attribute, such as Bottom margin. Otherwise, the results could end up being too drastic (with the font size too small for comfortable reading, for example).

After you have shrunk the document, if you’re not satisfied you can undo and then repeat the process with additional attributes checked.

Note, incidentally, that you can select a portion of the document (e.g., a page) and apply Make It Fit only to that area. If you do so, the “Area to adjust” will change from “full document” to “Selected area.” Be aware, though, that adjusting only part of the document might result in a somewhat funky appearance.

Changing Line Spacing

An experienced word processor’s tip: One relatively easy way to get text to fit onto a single page — assuming it spills over only slightly onto the second page — is by adjusting the line spacing (Format menu, Line, Spacing).

I use this trick a fair amount with letters. It’s a simple matter because letters normally are single-spaced, so I change the spacing from 1 to a fraction such as .97 or .95. As long as I don’t go much below .9, it’s not particularly noticeable.

It’s also possible to change the Line Height in WordPerfect (Format, Line, Height), but I don’t use this feature very much. I find the process somewhat more inexact than altering the line spacing. You might experiment with it to see if you like it.

Note that in Word, you can compress line spacing, too. There are two different ways to do it, both from within the Paragraph dialog. Just remember that you have to select the text first. To select the entire document, simply press Ctrl A.

After selecting text, open the paragraph dialog (a quick method is to press Alt, O, P) and then click the Line spacing dialog, and then either:

(1) Click Exactly and set the point size — remember, points refers to the height of the characters — to something smaller than the norm (most law firms use a 12-point font as their default, so type 11 or 11.5, for example)


(2) Click Multiple, and then type .97 or .95, comparable to the way you change the line spacing in WordPerfect.

Then OK out of the dialog.

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