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Make lines and arrows straight – a Word bug fix

Ever since Word 2013 there’s been a line alignment bug in Word.  Line and Arrow shapes aren’t straight, horizontal or vertical.  Here’s how to fix this ten year (and counting) bug.

Whenever a line or arrow is inserted (Insert | Shapes | Lines ) the result is always a little off.  The end points never align properly either horizontally or vertically.

It’s not possible to move one end to exactly match the other end and make a horizontal or vertical line.  It will snap either side of the correct alignment but not exactly in line.

The result is a slightly askew line at a slope or diagonal no matter what you try.  Holding Shift doesn’t help because the Shift + option moves the entire object in small increments, not just one end.

Hold Shift while drawing

What DOES work is drawing a line/arrow while holding down the Shift key. Holding Shift while drawing forces the line to horizontal, vertical or 45° angles.

But Shift only works while drawing the line, not for fixing lines already drawn.

Fix lines to horizontal or vertical

To fix a line that’s not quite horizontal/vertical, go to Layout Options | See More …

On the Size tab, look at Height | Absolute – it will be slightly off.

NOT the Rotation or Scale | Height settings.

Change Height | Absolute to 0  (zero)

And lo!  A horizontal line

We suggest leaving this setting to last because Word has the annoying habit of resetting to the non-zero value when the line is changed. 

Of course, another fix is to delete the existing line and redraw it while holding down the Shift key.

Make lines vertical

It’s the same for vertical lines except that the Width | Absolute changes to 0 (zero)

Word for Mac

It’s the same problem in Word for Mac.  Right-click on the line/arrow then More Layout Options | Size …

For a horizontal line, make sure Height is 0 (zero)

For a vertical line, make the Width 0 (zero)

It’s a bug

You’d think drawing a simple horizontal or vertical line would be simple thing to do in such long-standing software as Microsoft Word.  That doesn’t take into account Microsoft’s willingness to add more features to their software while ignoring the basic needs of customers.

It’s a bug in Word … no doubt about it.  Microsoft would probably try to argue that Word is working as designed … they’d even say that with a straight face.

PowerPoint does not have the same problem. Lines align horizontally or vertically first time.  The same Height / Width settings are available in Powerpoint but they should not be necessary to fix the alignment bug.

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