A carriage return puts your cursor on the next line and ends the current sentence or paragraph. Most carriage returns are added by pressing “Enter” on your keyboard, but when you import text from another source, carriage returns often happen on their own. If you don’t get rid of all carriage returns, these formatting additions make it hard to edit text, especially when you’re trying to fix it.
Seeing Marks for Formatting
Most word processors don’t show formatting marks by default, so you have to be smart about how you look for them. But full word processing programs like Word 2013 can show formatting marks to make them easier to find and change.
- Check the Home tab in Word for the Show/Hide button, which looks like a backwards P.
- Clicking it turns the formatting marks on and off.
Search and Replace
If you have more than one carriage return, it may not be possible to remove spacing in word file by hand. Most word processors have a feature called “Find and Replace” that you can use in this case.
- When you press “Ctrl-H” in Word, this utility opens.
- Add this formatting element to the Find What field, choose “Manual Line Break” from the Special drop-down menu.
- If the Special drop-down menu isn’t showing, click “More” to see more options.
- Leave the Replace With field blank and click “Replace All,” you’ll get rid of all carriage returns.
Space Between Paragraphs
Sometimes, carriage returns may not be making the returns that seem to be happening. Many word processors let you choose how much space to put between each paragraph.
- Clicking the bottom-left arrow in the Paragraph group on the Home tab, the Paragraph dialog box appears.
- Clicking the “Indents and Spacing” tab takes you to the spacing settings.
- Change “Before” and “After” to “0” in the Spacing section, the extra spaces in any selected text will be gone.
Distance Between Lines
Most word processors put blank lines between lines of text. Even though it looks like carriage returns are adding these extra lines, it’s just the way the text is formatted. In Word, you can find these options in the same section called “Spacing” where you change the space between paragraphs. If you choose “Single” from the Line Spacing drop-down menu, any selected text will no longer have extra lines.