How to Insert a Horizontal Line Break in Word Documents

Microsoft Word provides several easy methods to insert horizontal line breaks in your documents. These lines can help visually separate sections, highlight key areas, or simply add some visual interest.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn:

  • What are horizontal line breaks and why you should use them
  • 4 different methods to insert horizontal lines
  • How to customize the appearance of lines
  • Tips for using lines effectively in documents

What Are Horizontal Line Breaks?

A horizontal line break is a full-width horizontal line that spans the entire page or text column in your Word document.

Here are some common reasons to use horizontal line breaks:

  • Visually separate sections – Lines can divide logical sections in a document, making it more scannable and readable. For example, you may add a line between the introduction and body text.
  • Highlight key areas – Bring attention to important content like document titles or signature areas by placing lines above or below them.
  • Add visual interest – Simple lines can make large blocks of text more visually appealing and easier to digest.

Method 1: Insert Line Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The fastest way to insert a horizontal line is by using keyboard shortcuts. This AutoFormat method automatically creates a full-page line in just a few keystrokes.

Here are the keyboard shortcuts to insert common line styles:

  • Single solid line: Type 3 hyphens (—)
  • Double solid line: Type 3 equal signs (===)
  • Dotted line: Type 3 asterisks (***)
  • Bold single line: Type 3 underscores (_)

To use this method:

  1. Place cursor where you want the line
  2. Type the shortcut for your desired line style
  3. Press Enter

The line will instantly appear!

Method 2: Use Horizontal Line Button

You can also add a horizontal line by using the Horizontal Line button:

  1. Click Home tab
  2. In Paragraph group, click the arrow next to Borders
  3. Select Horizontal Line

This inserts a basic solid line. To customize, double-click the line to open Format Horizontal Line dialog box.

Method 3: Draw Line Using Shapes

The Shapes menu provides more line styles and control over placement:

  1. Click Insert tab
  2. Click Shapes > Lines
  3. Select your desired line style
  4. Click and drag to draw the line

You can re-size or re-position lines created as shapes.

Method 4: Use Borders for Fully Custom Lines

For the most control, use borders:

  1. Highlight paragraph where you want line
  2. Open Borders menu
  3. Select All Borders or Outside Borders

This lets you set custom width, color, and line style.

Customizing Line Appearance

All horizontal lines can be customized:

Width – Make lines thinner or thicker

Height – For non-full page lines, adjust height

Color – Change color to coordinate with document style

Alignment – Align left, right, or center within text area

Style – Change to solid, dotted, dashed, or double line

Tips for Using Horizontal Lines Effectively

Here are some best practices when adding horizontal lines in Word documents:

  • Use sparingly. Too many lines can be distracting.
  • Make key lines thicker to differentiate importance.
  • Align with nearby text or objects. Avoid uneven white space.
  • Change color to match graphic theme. For example, use brand colors.
  • Consider adding margin space if lines don’t fully span columns.

Common Uses for Horizontal Lines

Some effective ways to use horizontal lines in Word documents:

Separate document sections

Use lines to divide introduction from body text or separate chapters. This makes long documents more scannable.

Highlight headings

Place a line above or below headings to accentuate the divisions in your content.

Draw attention to key areas

Use lines to mark critical content you want readers to notice, like warnings or signatures.

Divide text and graphics

Insert lines between text and images, tables, or other visuals to keep your document organized.

Create sidebars or pull quotes

Borders can create sidebar frames to call out important details.


Adding horizontal line breaks is an easy way to enhance the structure and design of your Word documents.

Use the AutoFormat shortcuts to instantly insert lines, the Horizontal Line button for basic lines, Shapes for custom lines, or Borders to fully customize line appearance.

Experiment with lines of different widths, colors, and alignments to best organize your content. But be careful not to overuse lines, as too many can reduce readability.

Used sparingly and aligned with content, horizontal lines can help highlight key areas, separate document sections, and add visual interest.

So try adding some simple lines to your next Word document and see if it helps convey your message!