Page Layout in Microsoft Word and Excel [4 must-know parts]

Layout in Microsoft Word and Excel

Layout! Of course something that has no organization, structure and order we can call it a trash not layout.

Heading to Microsoft Office Menu the 4th and 3rd tab from Home in Word and Excel respectively is called layout (Also known as page layout)

Layout (or page layout) shapes the sheet, page or doc’s look and creates every document different to another according to the purpose or case.

Except that many of us use Microsoft Office but still not many who know what that tab can do for them, that’s what we are going to discuss.

What is a layout

Normally what is a layout? The plan or design or arrangement of something laid outMerriam-Webster says. Let’s say you want to arrange cows in ranch referring to their colors, that’s a layout.

It can also be a schema of something to guide the user of that thing.

How does a layout help

A layout creates an easy to understand structure for something, think of a building it also has a layout for engineers to be able to understand how it should be constructed.

Guess what? Without layout everything would look biased and mind-blurring. Simply, you wouldn’t understand that structure.

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Layout in Microsoft Office

No one should neglect layout in Microsoft Office instead it is something that anyone should take care of because it can slash the reader’s experience once is not taken into consideration.

Layout in Microsoft Word
Layout in Microsoft Word
Layout in Microsoft Excel
Layout in Microsoft Excel

The above images show where it is located in both Microsoft Word and Excel, it seems to be located at the same position except that Word has a Design tab while Excel hasn’t one.

Here are the common things we are going talk about in this article:

Selection PanelSelection Panel
Components of layout for both Word and Excel

Common Layout in Microsoft Word and Excel

Page setup

Page setup is a basic of how your document’s pages will be structure according to a type of document to write. For example a page of dissertation is different from a page of a book as well as a novel.

A default page setup of Microsoft Word document is A4 page with one inch (“) of margins in sides also top and bottom then in case of writing a novel or any other small book it’s a must to change those measurements.


Margins are necessary for every document to avoid any inconvenience in facilitation of reading the texts. Normally, margins are blank spaces left on the sides of the page.

A margin can also be found on the top and bottom of the document page, to prevent a writer to write on the edge of the page.


There are problems related with ignoring margin which include:

  • Losing some texts and words when you print a hard document, because you can print a document and the printer might put some words out of the paper according to the placement or size of the paper.
  • Risking to ignore margins might cause the devaluation of your document, this is in the context of professionalism and writing skills. People will give a little value to your document once you don’t apply simple rules.

When you click on margins you find many types of margins according to their sizes and it shows you every measurement of the margins.

Margins in Microsoft Word
Margins in Microsoft Word

Moreover you can set up custom margins, which are found below all margin types – just click on “Custom margins” here is what you will see:

Custom margins

In the image above, you can see that in your customization it is possible to change Top, Left, Bottom and Right margins even the gutter.

Gutter: An extra blank space left for binding in case you plan to make a hard copy of bound book. However, there are other ways you can achieve this gutter including increasing margin of respective side, it works either way.

You can see how the margins look on page by using preview, this will help to set up correct and desirable margins. Moreover, you can choose the style you set up to apply either on current page or whole document.

You can also make that style of margins hold for future use by setting it as default, then press okay to approve the changes.

Even though you can’t identify margins in Excel with bare eyes, but they are there and you can realize that if you print or export as a PDF.


Not everything seems to fit in default pages that Microsoft Word provides in the first hand, that’s why your contribution will be required in some circumstances.

There are two common types of orientation available in Microsoft Word which are:

  • Portrait mode
  • Landscape mode
Landscape and Portrait page orientations

In the image, you can see a clear difference between Landscape and Portrait mode by sizes and dimensions.

Portrait is a mode where page has a large height compared to the width and landscape is the other way around (Large width than height).

What you do is simply alternate between orientation by clicking to their respective options.


As said before, in writing documents are not the same and that makes them different either in a way of writing them and structures they follow including size (Dimensions).

That’s why a dictionary’s paper is far different from memoirs’ paper.

Page sizes in Microsoft Excel
Page sizes in Microsoft Excel

You see that there are various page sizes in both Word and Excel, this is to show how many choices to make that are already made for the user.

It is possible that all presets are not suitable for a certain document, that’s not a dead end you can adjust a page with custom dimensions.

There is a slight difference between Microsoft Word (on the right) and Excel (on the left) in modifying page size.

Excel has the option of adjusting the scale (in percentages) of normal size while the other has properties of modifying/customizing both height and Width manually

Like before it is possible to apply adjustments on one page (current) or the whole document or set as default to be able to use next time.


What does a break do? How to use it? These are the questions that are connected to breaks. Breaks property is found in both Microsoft Excel and Word because it is important and useful at some point.

By using an example; let’s say that a content needed is written but it can’t cover the whole page so that it can take the second page. To skip the remaining part of the page to the next page requires breaking that page!

I can tell you that it’s possible to use Enter to get to another page but it is not a good practice, moreover it is time consuming than using breaks.

Breaks normally break the page from the last word on the page.

Background (Excel)

This is not usually used in Excel but you never know when can be required, background is used to put a picture in sheet’s background.

You can choose from Microsoft Office’s computer library or online library from Microsoft’s search engine BING.

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Columns (Word)

Before technology and digitization take on, we used to use newspapers frequently (But still they are available) to update ourselves. I think some of us might know!

Have you seen how newspaper pages are written into columns style? That’s what columns function does, it divides a newspaper page into content columns.

Newspaper with columns – From Unsplash
Columns in Microsoft Word
Columns in Microsoft Word

In the images you can see similarities in structure, both documents contain columns on a single page. Columns could be any number but put many columns on one page sometimes looks bad.

I advise to not go beyond 3 columns on one page.

Paragraph in MS Word

This part is concerned all things regarding formatting a paragraph in one way or another, that’s why it is called a paragraph section.

Let’s see what we have in here:


This feature sometimes becomes crucial, it is associated with aligning a paragraph inwards or outwards (According to current position) also called right and left indentation respectively.

This enables to start writing at any horizontal line you want, it can work in many cases for example in formal letter there are parts that require a paragraph to start in the middle of the paper or a newspaper section.

Indent is a part of layout in Microsoft Word

From the above image again, the middle section (paragraph) is not in the same alignment as other paragraphs which means that it is indented to the left.


A brother of indentation, while indentation adds space horizontally spacing adds space vertically which otherwise called paragraph spacing (this is where you put a space between two paragraphs).

Line space might be of worth, why then? There are so many people who make a great mistake while writing and this is because they didn’t know about this spacing.

The mistake they make is to use Enter (of key) where they would use spacing, if you were doing that stop it! It is better to use spacing because you can customize the height between paragraphs which is different from enter where distance can’t be controlled.

Spacing in Microsoft Word

Spacing can also be used between headings of page to identify the different sections, parts or chapters of document.

As of the image (above) you can see a significant difference in space heights between paragraphs, one is 7.5 pt long while other is 42 pt long.

Sheet Options in Excel

Like we kept seeing above, at some points Excel and Word’s Layout components are different moreover it is comprehensible since their roles are different.

Excel has a part of Layout which is called Sheet options regarding the structure of sheet.


When it is said gridlines are those rectangular lines you see in the sheet, they can be helpful to identify the perimeter of cells.

Gridlines help in setting up gridlines, either choose to view them or hide them in the sheet while working. But a best advice is to keep them visible to know locations of cells, that’s why they come.

Again by your will, you can choose to print those gridlines in excel in case of printing which by default is unticked.

You can see that the two images are differentiated by gridlines because one has gridlines (left) and other is gridlines-free (right).


Headings are indicators of columns and rows of Excel sheet, normally headings of rows are numbers whereas headings of columns are alphabets.

Like Gridlines, you can view or hide headings of a sheet as well you can print or not print. In my opinion, printing headings would look somehow weird yet it depends on the purpose.

Arrange (Word and Excel)

This is a feature of layout that people aren’t using frequently for both Microsoft Excel and Word at least they are using few in PowerPoint, arrangement is to put in order elements of document in order.

Arrange section has four (4) crucial elements:


Position certainly works on media files like images, videos and so on. You can position an image in different positions.

  • In line position with text
  • With Text Wrapping
    • Top left position
    • Top center position
    • Top right position
    • Middle left position
    • Middle center position
    • Middle right position
    • Bottom left position
    • Bottom center position
    • Bottom right position
Position of image with text wrapping

From the image above, you see that a picture is positioned between texts, which was done using positioning. There are other different positions available when you click on more layout options…

There is also position that regards overlapping elements one element can be above or beneath another.

When you want to move an object one place above or beneath other element you use Bring Forward or Send Backward respectively.

When you want to move an object above or beneath all other objects you use Bring to Front or Send to Back.


Alignment has many components which help you to identify where a media should be placed.

To align an image to the left, this implies that the image will force its way to the left and exchange the position with other content.

We can also divide alignment into two major parts which are Align and Distribute. Alignment works in case it is a single object that is being placed relative to the page whereas Distribution works in case an object is relative to another object.

Also, alignment can be vertical or horizontal:

  • Horizontal alignment
    • Align Left
    • Align Right
    • Align Center
  • Vertical alignment
    • Align top
    • Align middle
    • Align bottom

In distribution includes:

  • Distribute horizontally
  • Distribute vertically
Alignment in Microsoft Office
Alignment in Microsoft Office

I repeat that distribution won’t work for a single object, you must select more than one object in the sheet or document.

Selection pane

Selection is something crucial in layout and as always it is regarded to media objects, where it helps you to manage the positions of those objects or enable you to edit a certain object.

You can hide or view an object through selection pane without deleting it.

Did you know that you can rename an image or shape in Microsoft Word or Excel?

I guess you didn’t know or thought it is possible to rename an shape, but it is a 100% possible by using selection pane.

Both selection panes (Excel and Word) look the same, and all names of objects in the pane don’t look the same in selection pane of Word (Right) one is Picture 1 (Default) and other is A square shape (custom).


Group elements, is to put them together. This is what grouping does in Microsoft Office you can put together elements in one group.

Grouped Elements (same case for Excel)

Groups always work with objects like shapes, images and icons. When you group elements, they move together however once you want to take one item independently, it is also possible to ungroup elements.

Concluding layout…

In short, layout is a broad thing in Microsoft Office (Word and Excel) because it’s where it is based, we have seen that it helps you to enhance the structure of your document.

Now it’s best time to start practicing everything we learned here, to be honest you won’t know if you don’t practice frequently and often to know how to arrange, position and break pages in real life.

Remember that this is a guide but you have to practice because, “Practice makes perfect”.

The best advice is, if you are at work don’t be afraid of practicing all of these in your short reports or drafts it can be good and you will finally try to be acquainted with them slow-by-slow.

How much did you know about Layout? Are you interested in engaging yourself to know more?

Let me know what you think in the comment section. Thanks!

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