2 Ways to Add a Line in Word (and 1 Way NOT to Do It!)

- select the contributor at the end of the page -

When you’re on the job hunt, having a professional, easy-to-scan resume is perhaps the most important tool in your arsenal since it’s exactly what will get you in the door for an interview in the first place.

One way to add readability to your resume is by delineating sections with a horizontal line (sometimes called a horizontal ruler) or border. The trick is knowing how to add lines in Word the correct way. If formatted incorrectly, your line may come across, both printed and digitally, as awkward or in the wrong place.

Here are two ways to add lines in Word and one way NOT to do it.

1- Use AutoFormat

The fastest way to add a horizontal line is to use the AutoFormat feature (not available in Office Online).

  1. Place the cursor in the spot where you want to add a line.
  2. Type 3 symbols in a row:
    • --- (hyphens) for a plain single line
    • === (equal signs) for a plain double line
    • *** (asterisks) for a broken/dotted line
    • _ _ _ (underlines) for a bold single line
    • ~~~ (tildes) for a wavy line
    • ### (number signs) for a triple line with thick center
  3. Press Enter

To move the line, click on it once and drag it to another location. If you want to format the horizontal line, click on the line once and use the sizing arrows to resize it. Or, double-click on the line to open the Format Horizontal Line box where you can modify the line width, height, color, and alignment.

Borders dialogue box in Microsoft Word

2- Use the Horizontal Line Border

Another way to add a line in Word is by using a horizontal line border*:

  1. Place the cursor in the spot where you want to add a line.
  2. Click on Home (located in the upper left-hand corner).
  3. Look in the Paragraph section and click the down arrow next to the Borders button.
  4. Click on Horizontal Line.

Click on the line once or double-click on the line to move or reformat it.

To REMOVE a horizontal line border, click the No Border button in the drop-down menu next to the Borders button.

*This way of inserting a horizontal line works best if you write all of your text first and then add the line.

How NOT to Add Lines in Word

What you don’t want to do when figuring out how to add lines in Word is to manually key in multiple underline symbols all the way across the page. Doing this is not only time consuming and prone to error, but is likely to come across as amateur, awkward, and unprofessional . . . which is definitely NOT how you want to portray yourself on your IT resume.

When you add horizontal lines the right way, potential employers will more likely regard your resume as a winning one worth a second look.

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Alan Ackmann

Alan Ackmann teaches professional and technical writing at DePaul University in Chicago. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, and he is the author of the following Pluralsight Courses: Fundamentals of Written Proposals; Writing Process Instructions and Directions; and Resumes, Research, and Writing on the Job Hunt.