In some fonts although the letters of a word are well-spaced, the words themselves seem to run too close together. Is there any way to adjust this in MS Word? And is there a term for this sort of 'tracking' between words rather than between letters?

Manual methods suggested for doing this (e.g., to find/replace spaces with a larger-font space) are too high maintenance when you know there will be changes to the text.


  • 3
    It's called word spacing
    – Billy Kerr
    May 13, 2019 at 19:24
  • Welcome to Graphic Design StackExchange. It's a good idea to make your word-spacing consistent throughout your document rather than a portion of a reader's spread or single page. Avoid using multiple space characters rather than find/replace instances of space character to larger or smaller font sizes.
    – Stan
    May 18, 2019 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


Kerning and tracking, as @GerardFalla is talking about, are both related to the spacing of characters.

The space between words is simply called Word Spacing.

It can be specified in professional layout applications like InDesign, but I'm afraid that MS Word doesn't have this setting (although I might be mistaken).

A google search on the subject seems to only reveal different workarounds like inserting extra spaces or changing the font size for spaces only.


Kerning and tracking are two related and frequently confused typographical terms. Both refer to the adjustment of space between characters of type.

Kerning Is Selective Letterspacing
Kerning is the adjustment of space between pairs of letters. Some pairs of letters create awkward spaces. Kerning adds or subtracts space between letters to create visually appealing and readable text.

Kerning information for many commonly kerned character pairs is built into most quality fonts. Some software programs use these built-in kerning tables to apply automatic kerning to text. Each application provides varying amounts of support for built-in kerning information and may support only Type 1 or only TrueType kerning data.

Anywhere from 50 to 1000 or more kerning pairs may be defined for anyone font. A handful of the thousands of possible kerning pairs are Ay, AW, KO, and wa.

Headlines usually benefit from kerning, and text set in all caps almost always requires kerning for best appearance. Depending on the font and the actual characters used, automatic kerning without manual intervention may be sufficient for most publications.

Tracking Is Overall Letterspacing
Tracking differs from kerning in that tracking is the adjustment of space for groups of letters and entire blocks of text. Use tracking to change the overall appearance and readability of the text, making it more open and airy or denser.

You can apply tracking to all text or selected portions. You can use selective tracking to squeeze more characters onto a line to save space or prevent a few words from carrying over to another page or column of text.

Tracking often changes line endings and shortens lines of text. Tracking can be further adjusted on individual lines or words to improve hyphenation and line endings.

Tracking should not replace careful copy fitting. Use tracking adjustments carefully and avoid extreme changes in the tracking (loose or normal tracking followed by a line or two of very tight tracking, for example) within the same paragraph or adjacent paragraphs.


As a general aside: Word has been designed and coded to be a decent-to-good glorified typewriter. I use it (albeit reluctantly) quite often, and within its scope, it does a good job overall (albeit with some serious quirks). It was not, however, designed and coded to be graphic design or page layout software, and as a result of the everything-inline-no-matter-what paradigm, it's a hellaciously bad tool for a lot of graphics and layout tasks.

It is good at what it does: power typing. The typography tools are... rudimentary... and not very consistent. That said, you can handily achieve what you need there, assuming your standard is not very high, the level of precision you require isn't high, and you don't want a lot of automated power.

I hope some of this helps - good luck.


I'm teaching students using MS Word and LaTeX.

So here the mechanism with word:

MS Word never had a good word spacing and you simply can not adjust it.

To get a better word spacing you have to add manual hyphenations or to rephrase the text!

That means if you have no possibility to add an hyphenation to get larger word spacing you realy have to rephrase the sentence (in german not very often).

The culprit is that the hyphenation for german is not pretty, the english one is better. The best practice in MS Word is (for german!) to switch of the automatic hyphenation and add manual hyphenation signs already while writing words like


(I used here normal - to show the added hyphenation signs).

That is only the first step. It makes the second step easier (after a while you will become very good in guessing where the hyphenation has to be ...)

After finishing your text inclusive all text/writing corrections you have to start at the begin of your document and check the layout of the lines, check if the hyphenations (if you are using automatic hyphenation that is very important!) and check the correct placing of images too. If you have lines to be to short or too long use manual hyphenation to help MS Word to get a better line layout (that is the only thing Word does for you in typographical view), if that does not help rephrase the sentence.

Do not the same error most of my students do at the beginning of the course to correct each line at once. You do not know if there will be an image disturbing the current layout or you have to make a correction of text later.

That is all fine tuning and had to be done at the end of the work after you are shure your text is fixed and will not change. And btw you will not loose such a lot time in constant correcting things which are at last no problem ...

BTW: If possible and you can write in LaTeX I would use LaTeX for books, reports etc. MS Word was written to do simple typewriting and not to create good typografy and that you can see today even with current versions of Word.

Good typography you get with LaTeX (academic work, books etc) or Adobe Indesign (used also for layouting books, magazines, newsletters etc).

But of course your professor has to accept that then too ...

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