How to Change the Gutter Position in MS Word 2016: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing the gutter position in Microsoft Word 2016 simply involves modifying the page setup settings. By accessing the Page Layout tab, selecting ‘Margins,’ and then ‘Custom Margins,’ you’ll be able to adjust the gutter position to your liking. This can help ensure that your document is properly bound and looks professional.

After you adjust the gutter position, the margin on the side of the page you choose will increase to allow for binding. This ensures that text is not obscured when the document is bound or placed in a folder.


When it comes to creating documents in Microsoft Word 2016, details matter. Whether you’re writing a book, crafting a professional report, or preparing a dissertation, how your document looks can be just as crucial as the content itself. One often overlooked aspect of document design is the gutter margin – the extra space added to the side or top margin of a document to allow for binding. Understanding how to change the gutter position in Microsoft Word 2016 can make all the difference in producing a polished, readable final product.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, if you’ve ever opened a book or a report and found the text disappearing into the spine, making it difficult to read without forcing the pages open, then you’ve seen the results of an inadequate gutter margin. For those who plan to bind their documents, or simply want to ensure a more aesthetically pleasing and functional layout, customizing the gutter margin is key. It’s particularly relevant for students, authors, and professionals who intend to present their work in printed form.

Step by Step Tutorial: Changing the Gutter Position in Microsoft Word 2016

Before diving into the steps, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. We’re going to alter the default margin settings to add extra space to a particular side of the page. This space is meant to account for the part of the paper that will be eaten up by the binding process. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Open the Page Layout Tab

Open the Page Layout tab in the Microsoft Word 2016 ribbon.

This tab contains all the settings that control the layout of your document, including margins.

Step 2: Click on Margins

Click on the ‘Margins’ button in the Page Setup group.

Here, you’ll find predefined margin settings and the option for customizing your own.

Step 3: Select Custom Margins

Select ‘Custom Margins’ at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

This opens the Page Setup dialogue box where you can adjust the gutter margin.

Step 4: Adjust the Gutter

In the Page Setup dialogue box, input your desired gutter size in the ‘Gutter’ box.

Remember, the gutter size will depend on the binding method and the number of pages in your document.

Step 5: Choose the Gutter Position

Choose the gutter position by selecting ‘Left’ or ‘Top’ in the ‘Gutter position’ drop-down menu.

The position will depend on how you intend to bind your document. Generally, ‘Left’ is used for perfect binding, and ‘Top’ is for spiral or comb binding.

Step 6: Apply to the Whole Document

Set your gutter for the whole document by selecting ‘Whole document’ in the ‘Apply to’ drop-down menu.

This ensures that your gutter settings will apply to every page.


Improved ReadabilityAdding a gutter margin can significantly improve the readability of a bound document by preventing text from getting lost in the binding.
Professional AppearanceProper gutter margins give your document a professional look, reflecting well on you as the author.
CustomizableMicrosoft Word 2016 allows for customizable gutter margins, so you can adjust them according to your specific binding needs.


Requires PlanningYou need to know the type of binding and the number of pages to effectively set the gutter margin, requiring some planning.
Can Affect LayoutChanging the gutter margin can affect the overall layout of the document, which may require additional adjustments.
Might Not Suit All BindingsThe gutter position that is suitable for one type of binding may not be applicable for another, limiting its versatility.

Additional Information

While the above steps are straightforward, there are a few extra tidbits that could be handy. For one, the size of the gutter margin often depends on the number of pages in your document. A thicker document requires a larger gutter to account for the curvature of the spine when it’s opened. Conversely, a slimmer document would need a smaller gutter margin. Also, keep in mind that when setting the gutter, you’re adding to the existing margin. So, if you already have a 1-inch left margin and set a 0.5-inch gutter, you’ll end up with a 1.5-inch margin on the binding side of the page.

Remember to consider the type of binding when you change the gutter position. For instance, spiral or comb bindings may require a gutter at the top, while perfect binding (like that of paperback books) will need a gutter on the left. Lastly, for documents with a large number of pages, it’s wise to consult with a printing professional to determine the appropriate gutter size.


  1. Open the Page Layout Tab
  2. Click on Margins
  3. Select Custom Margins
  4. Adjust the Gutter
  5. Choose the Gutter Position
  6. Apply to the Whole Document

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gutter margin?

A gutter margin is the extra space added to the side or top margin of a document to accommodate binding.

Can I change the gutter margin for just one section of a document?

Yes, you can apply gutter margin settings to a specific section by choosing ‘This section’ in the ‘Apply to’ drop-down menu in the Page Setup dialogue box.

Does changing the gutter margin affect the overall page size?

No, it doesn’t affect the page size, but it does alter the printable area by increasing the margin on the gutter side.

What’s the difference between gutter margin and regular margin?

A regular margin is the space around the text area on all sides, while the gutter margin is specifically added to the binding side to prevent text from being obscured once bound.

Should the gutter margin be larger for thicker documents?

Yes, thicker documents require a larger gutter to account for the curvature of the spine when opened.


In conclusion, knowing how to change the gutter position in Microsoft Word 2016 is an essential skill for anyone looking to present their work in printed form. It’s not just about making your document look good; it’s about ensuring that your readers have a comfortable experience perusing your hard work. Whether you’re a student, an author, or a professional, taking the time to adjust the gutter margin demonstrates attention to detail and a commitment to quality.

Remember, the keys to success here are planning and understanding your binding needs. Don’t hesitate to ask for professional advice if you’re unsure. With a well-set gutter margin, your documents are bound to impress, both figuratively and literally!

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