How to Change Margins in Google Docs (With Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 18, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Google Docs is a web-based app that helps users create, edit, and store various types of document files. When working on a Google Docs project, you can edit a document's margins for various reasons. Learning how to change page margins in Google Docs may help you create better and more appealing documents. In this article, we explain how to change margins in Google Docs, discuss when you can do that, share how to change paragraph margins in Google Docs, and provide some tips.

How to change margins in Google docs

Here are various steps on how to change margins in Google Docs:

1. Open your document in Google Docs

The first step is to open a web browser and navigate to Google Docs. If you're using Google Chrome, you can open Google Docs by clicking the grid icon at the top right of the page. This opens a drop-down menu with different Google programs on it. Find the blue paper graphic that says "Docs" and double-click it to open the application.

Once you've opened Docs, select the document you want to modify. If you want to start work on a new document and wish to begin by editing its margins, you can select the “Blank” option at the top-left corner of the screen. If you want to edit the margins in an existing document, either scroll down to review recently opened documents or use the search function to find them.

Related: How to Make a Google Doc on a Mobile Device or Computer

2. Select “File” and then “Page setup”

Once you've opened the document you want to work on, select “File” from the toolbar in the upper-left corner of the screen. Click on this tab, and a drop-down menu appears with options that allow you to save, move, print, and share the document. This menu also includes a “Page setup” option. Click on it, and a new window pops up.

3. Adjust your margins

Once you open the "Page setup" window, you can edit your margins. The margin settings are on the right side of the window. You can change the document's top, bottom, left, and right margins by clicking on the text box next to the margin you want to change. The default setting is one inch unless you or a collaborator have changed it before. Type in the new margins and click the "OK" button at the bottom of the window to apply your changes.

Related: How to Create a Professional Document Using Google Docs

When is it beneficial to change margins in Google Docs?

It's beneficial for you to change your margins in Google Docs if:

  • The document you're working on has specific formatting requirements. When working on a document, your manager may require you to follow specific formatting guidelines, including margin size requirements. Being able to do that can help you adhere to the respective guidelines.

  • The formatting changes when converting a document. When you convert a document, like a PDF, to Google Docs, it may affect its original formatting. Knowing how to change the margins can help you revert it to its initial state.

  • The proper formatting can make your document look more professional. Certain official documents have specific margin requirements, and being able to adjust your document's margins can help it gain a more professional appearance.

Related: A Guide to Searching Google Docs (With Benefits and FAQs)

How to change paragraph margins in Google Docs

Besides changing the entire document's page margins in Google Docs, you may also want to adjust paragraph margins. You can do that by using the ruler in Google Docs. Here are the steps you can follow:

1. Open Google Docs and select the document you want to edit

Similar to changing the entire document's margins, the first step is to open a web browser, go to Google Docs, and select the document. Given that you're attempting to adjust paragraph margins, it may help to select a document that already has some text in it. If you're working on a new document and want to set up its paragraph margins before adding content, you can add some placeholder text so you can choose where to set the margins. Placeholder text is any piece of text that matches the characteristics of the text you want to input.

Related: How to Track Changes in Google Docs (With Steps and FAQs)

2. Find the ruler

After opening your chosen document, the next step is to find the ruler. This is a tool that helps you change your text's margins or indents while also ensuring that all the elements in your document are in proper alignment. You can find the ruler below the settings bar at the top of the document. It's visible by default, but if you can't see it, you can enable it by clicking on "View" on the toolbar in the upper part of your screen and then selecting "Show ruler."

Related: Learn How to Alphabetize in Google Docs Using an Add-On

3. Locate the triangles and adjust the grey area next to them to change the margins

After finding the horizontal ruler, you can locate two blue triangles. The area between the two triangles is white, while the exterior areas are grey. To increase or decrease the margins on either side, first move your cursor over one of the two grey areas. Once you do that, the cursor changes into a white two-headed arrow.

Left-click anywhere inside the grey area and drag your cursor to the left or to the right depending on how you wish to adjust paragraph margins. You can change your margins once you release the mouse button. Follow the same steps with the grey area on the opposite side to adjust that side's margins.

4. Edit the top and bottom margins

Next, edit the margins on the top and bottom of the page. Find the vertical ruler on the left side of the screen. To edit the margins at the top of the page, click and drag on the grey area on the top of the ruler. Do the same with the grey area on the bottom of the page to change those margins.

Related: How to Draw on Google Docs to Add Interest to Your Projects

Tips for changing margins in Google Docs

Consider these tips to help you change the margins in Google Docs:

Check the default paper size

Certain issues may affect the way you set your margins. Sometimes you cannot set them correctly because the default paper size is "Letter" while the printing size is "A4." To change this, go to "File," "Page setup," and change the paper size to "A4."

Related: How to Make a Graph in Google Docs (With Steps and Tips)

Print the document as a PDF

You can make sure your document maintains your chosen page margins regardless of any potential errors by saving it as a PDF file. You can do that by clicking on "File," "Download," then "PDF document (.pdf)" to convert the document to a PDF file. This also helps ensure the document keeps its intended format on any device used to open it.

Send a copy when sharing your document with someone else

You can share your document with someone else and still keep its original form. If you want to share a document with a colleague or manager but don't want them to make any changes, you can send them a copy. Select "File" and "Make a copy" to open a window that gives you some options for copying the document, such as renaming the copy and sharing it with specific people.

Related: How to Add a Border in Google Docs in 5 Different Ways

Check your document's revision history

Besides automatically saving your work as you input content into the document, Google Docs also allows you to analyze your revision history. This feature may be helpful if you think that some of your previous choices regarding page and paragraph margins are better than the ones you currently use. You can do this by clicking “File” and selecting “Version history.” This allows you to select from multiple previous versions of your document.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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