• 2-minute read
  • 30th August 2019

Page Layout and Text Alignment in Google Docs

While Google Docs might not have as many formatting options as Microsoft Word, it does give you some control over how to present text, including:

  • Page layout (i.e., the page size, margins, and orientation)
  • Text alignment and spacing (i.e., how text is arranged on the page)

So for more control over the formatting of your documents, check out our tips on page layout and text alignment in Google Docs.

Page Layout: Orientation and Margins

To access layout options in Google Docs, go to File > Page Setup in the menu. This will open a new window with four key page layout options, including:

  • Page Orientation – Whether to display the page as portrait or landscape.
  • Margins – Sets the size of the top, bottom, left, and right page margins.
  • Paper Size – Sets the overall size of the page, including margins.
  • Page Color – Allows you to set the background color of the page.
The page layout options in Google Docs.
The page layout options in Google Docs.

Once you’ve made adjustments here, click OK to apply them. You can also select Set as Default here to apply the same settings to all new documents.

Text Formatting: Alignment and Spacing

So you’ve got your page layout sorted, but what about the text itself? You can, of course, use the Text Style options to quickly apply formatting.

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But Google Docs also lets you apply formatting manually, including the text alignment and spacing options. You can adjust the alignment by selecting one of the four alignment icons on the toolbar (listed left to right):

  • Left Align – Align text to the left margin.
  • Right Align – Align text to the right margin.
  • Center Align – Positions text in the center of the page.
  • Justify – Text is spaced to align with left and right margins.
Text alignment settings.
Text alignment settings.

To change the spacing settings, meanwhile, select the line spacing icon on the toolbar. This will open a dropdown menu with three main options:

  • Line Spacing – Adjust the space between lines in a paragraph to one of four common default settings (Single, 1.15, 1.5, or Double).
  • Paragraph Spacing – Add or remove a space before or after a paragraph.
  • Custom Spacing – Enter custom values for line and paragraph spacing.
Paragraph spacing options.
Paragraph spacing options.

This will give you complete control over the text spacing in your document.

Comments (21)
12th March 2020 at 17:15
Is there a way to center the page, top to bottom? Meaning, I write a few sentences, but, want an equal amount of space above and below the writing, so it is centered in the middle of the page.
    13th March 2020 at 10:01
    Hi, Tony. I'm afraid Google Docs does not feature an option for this, but you can adjust the vertical alignment in Microsoft Word as follows: 1. Go to Layout > Page Setup on the main ribbon 2. Click the little arrow in the corner of the Page Setup section 3. In the pop-up window, go to the Layout tab 4. Find the Vertical Alignment menu and select Center Hope that helps!
19th April 2020 at 02:10
Is there a way to center the page, top to bottom BUT on google docs?
    20th April 2020 at 12:05
    Hi there. Unfortunately, Google docs does not currently offer any vertical alignment options, so all you can really do is add line breaks manually.
26th April 2020 at 22:10
Is there a way to just have the first page centered but not the next
    27th April 2020 at 10:00
    Hi, Cassandra. Do you mean centering the text/images on the first page? If so, you would just need to select what you want to center and format it accordingly, then use a different alignment for the rest of the document. Let us know if that's not what you had in mind.
26th August 2020 at 13:29
Really really thanks
Carlo Uskoski
8th October 2020 at 21:38
Is there a way to split the page in half so you can write on both sides of the page like the setup below? Compare Contrast Hello Goodbye
    9th October 2020 at 09:55
    Hi, Carlo. If you select some text and go to Format > Columns in the main menu, you can select the number of columns to use on the page there.
9th October 2020 at 20:47
for all of my new documents, any text type change, colour change, spacing change, formatting, or size changes will affect everything....so all text will be a centred title, ect even if I specifically highlight one part or word on a different line.... ive never had this before
    12th October 2020 at 09:34
    Hi there. It sounds like something has gone wrong with Google Docs for you, unless it's just that all the text is formatted without paragraph breaks? I'm afraid we can't help with troubleshooting more generally, but there are some suggestions you could try here: https://support.google.com/docs/answer/7505592
12th November 2020 at 16:24
I am still so confused on how to justify left with the text in my google docs. Is not where you align the text to where there is even printing and it looks blockish. My professor keeps telling me I havent correctly justified the text, and I'm at my wits end. Could use some help.
    12th November 2020 at 17:32
    It looks like you might have confused the terminology in "justify left" since "Justify" and "Align Left" are separate options. To "justify" text is to make it align with both left and right margins (i.e., the right-hand option in the image of the alignment options above: the one that looks like a four lines forming a rectangle). If your professor is asking for "justified" text, then, they probably want you to use this style of alignment.
17th November 2020 at 13:39
is there a way to add an image in the center of the page but considering the margins? like in the center of the margins if that makes sense
    17th November 2020 at 13:50
    The "Center" alignment option will already position the image centrally in relation to the margins as a default (thus, if you center an image and then change one of the margins, the image and any text will shift positions in relation to the new margin settings). You shouldn't have to do anything extra to achieve this.
Annaliese Hinz
17th February 2021 at 16:46
I'm trying to write on Google Docs, but I just want a single heading centered. Then when I press enter to move down a line and do left align it aligns the heading to the left as well. Not just the current line. It is very aggravating. Is there anyway to fix this rubbish?!?
    17th February 2021 at 17:19
    Hi, Annaliese. That shouldn't happen under normal circumstances (unless you press Shift + Enter to add a line break without starting a new paragraph). There might be a simple fix based on your line and paragraph spacing options, but it is hard to offer advice without seeing the document (and unfortunately Google Docs doesn't currently let you see non-printing marks like paragraph marks, so I don't think you can check to see if there is a new paragraph after the heading). If it is a bug, then, you might need to try contacting Google support. Sorry we can't offer more help!
16th September 2021 at 07:39
Is there a way to have a paragraph in center but another on left without it moving together?
    16th September 2021 at 10:23
    Hi, Kaylin. Can you clarify your meaning? If you want to center a single paragraph, you can just select the relevant text and hit the required alignment button, then that paragraph will move without the paragraphs above or below changing alignment. If you mean, can you have two (or more) paragraphs adjacent to one another on the page, though, you might have to try using columns. We have a post about the latter here: https://proofed.com/writing-tips/formatting-columns-microsoft-word/
8th November 2021 at 19:32
Why is it when I try to center a specific selected text, e.g. a title, docs centers the entire document?
    9th November 2021 at 12:33
    Hi, Arlo. It's difficult to offer any advice on this without seeing the document in question. Is it possible your document lacks paragraph breaks (i.e., so Google Docs is treating all of the text as a single large paragraph)? It might be worth deleting and re-adding the line/paragraph breaks in the document to see if that helps. Otherwise, this sounds like an error you'll need to contact Google about.

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