Mac Word 2011 Insert Horizontal Line

By | 2012/03/05

After almost 22 years of making Microsoft Office for various platforms, Microsoft has bafflingly never provided an Insert > Horizontal Line option.

The ‘three dashes and enter’ trick does not work on Office for Mac 2011. However, there is indeed a way to insert a horizontal line to your Word document. I’ll show you how!

In the top ribbon menu, click on Home and then the Grid Box icon. Choose Bottom to create a horizontal line at the location of your cursor.



28 thoughts on “Mac Word 2011 Insert Horizontal Line

  1. Bob

    Great tip! Simple and it works.

    Searching for “line” in Word 2011 help returns only references to lines of text.

  2. cora

    I want to insert a line that isn’t on top or below of my text. It needs to set right next to my text. Also when I press enter to start writing a new line of text it automatically enters another line where I don’t want it to be! I do I fix this!

  3. Bob

    Your link gives that tip, but no specific instructions for finding the phantom command “InsertHorizontalLine”. Nor have I located the “Horizontal Rule” button or command. In previous versions of Word, yes, but not in Word 2011. If you can point me to the location of any of these I would be grateful.

  4. Louis St-Amour

    Sorry, it was hard to find for me too — it’s obscurely hidden under Format > Borders or some such. It’s a button in the dialogue box, lower left corner. It pops up a file open screen where you can pick “default rule” or choose your own graphic rule style.

  5. Bob

    Thanks, Louis, believe I found what you describe. There are at least three ways to get a line besides the ancient method of typing a series of underline segments. I don’t believe any of them could be called “correct” since each offers its own blend of convenience versus choice of line styles:

    (1) The simplest is what’s described at the top of this page. With the Home tab selected in the ribbon menu at the top of your Word page, click on the Grid icon (bottom row, 4 cells outlined in dots with a down arrow) and from the drop-down menu select the first item, Bottom. Makes a full length 1/2 point single line, no muss, no fuss. And no choice of styles either.

    (2) Select the Table tab in the ribbon menu, and in the Draw Borders section at the right you’ll see that same Grid icon and can select a line the same way. Difference is that the two buttons to the right of the Grid icon allow you to select line sizes from 1/4 point to 6 points, and one of 24 line styles. Very handy if you need something beyond a simple single line.

    (3) Remembering L for Louis, select the Layout tab which is second from the left edge. In its Page Background section, second from right, click the Borders button. In the window that opens, click the Horizontal Line button in the lower left corner. This opens the Choose A Picture window and there you can select one simple Default Line that’s a graphic element, or one of eight other artsy lines. The name and appearance of this window looked familiar and it led to the following alternate and easier path.

    (3a) Go to the Insert menu at the top of your computer screen and select Photo/Picture from File. You get the same window as in the preceding and now obsolete method.

    In any of these line selections make sure before you start that your cursor is positioned at the place in the document where you want the line to appear.

    Now I gotta get back to work. Thanks again, collaboration is the best way to go most of the time.

  6. Thomas

    Thank you for helping me add a horizontal line to my resumé.

  7. Bobby

    I’ve tried both methods and can say that the first method described looks the best. Thanks to you both for your differing but useful takes on something MS obviously screwed up on.

  8. John

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have spent two decades trying to figure out an easy way to do this. Your tip is brilliant.

  9. Christopher

    Hi folks!
    This whole thing seems a little bit odd, as there are several ways to reach one’s goal. I don’t mean that as an offense to you guys, I really appreciate your hints and tricks.
    As far as I am concerned the “Horizontal Line” button was a pretty common thing in earlier versions of Word for Mac (Word:Mac 2004). I used that button quite a lot on my old G4 Mac with Word 2004.

    Switching to a new Intel Mac last year urged me in purchasing the new Office 2011. I had to realize that my beloved “Horizontal Line” button was removed, or at least its functionality has been narrowed down. In Word 2004 it was possible to change the thickness, colour and shadow of the line. That function is now missing or the fields/buttons are greyed out. Furthermore, the programmers made it complicated for the user to find the line pattern in the specific folder on the harddisk (in Word 2004 the correct folder was selected by default).

    Recently I found out that the command “Horizontal Line” appears in the “Format” menubar (top of the screen) when I open an old doc-file. But that line now looks kind of awkward in the new 2011 version. Thus I switched to Scott’s workaround by using the frame buttons.
    Up to now I haven’t understood why MS threw the old command away, or came up with different ways of inserting a line

  10. Chloe


    I have been looking for something like this for days! I have tried various methods for adding lines to my CV with Office 2011 but this is easily the best.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Bob

      In method (2) of my April 27, 2012 post, select the Tables tab and note that on the right side of the ribbon menu there are several drop down menus to control the line. First to use is Borders, where you select the bottom only of your one-line cell. Just to the left of Borders is Lines, where you can select a color. The two drop-downs to the right of Borders allow selection of line styles and weights.

  11. Teresa

    Thanks for the great tip. On my system Mac OS X 10.7.5 it’s just what you said, only under Document Elements, not Home. But thank you, I would never have found it without you!

  12. Ellen

    Argh! When I hit “home” I do not get a pull-down menu. If I hit “home,” then “layout,” I get a grid box but no pull-dowm menu.

  13. Viktor Block

    the best tip ever, done in 2 sec, thanks

  14. Joe

    Thank you for this! was struggling beforehand. Kind regards

  15. Joyce

    Just find this topic today, thanks so much, it helped a lot!

  16. Bobbie

    While searching the Internet for how to change the color of the lines in a grid, I found this website. Even though I haven’t tried the tips, thanks to all who contributed. It’s nice to see there are many helpful people. I’m running Yosemite 10.10 on my Mac and am using MS Office 2011, Vers. 14.4.5. Absolutely NONE of the instructions work. When I find instructions in Word Help, for example, none of the words Help tells me to choose are in the menus or sub-menus, or they are grey type (unselectable). It’s as if the version I’m using is from another world. Aarrrggghreh!!!! Any ideas how to fix this?

    Also, I occasionally need o print a sheet of “graph” paper. I found a tip online that tells how to change the line size and color of the grid lines. For this tip, all the menu items required were available. I selected line size and light blue for the grid but nothing changed. Anyone know how to change line size and color in a grid?

    What is the matter with Mirosoft that they can’t make Office products work on a Mac? So many functions in Word do not work.

  17. Rob Vega

    Dear Scott,
    Thank you SO much for this information! I am wrapping up my doctoral dissertation, and I was going (even more) crazy trying to figure out how to do this! You have saved what is left of my sanity! LOL


  18. marc

    I love the intro with displaying how arrogant microsoft has been with not implementing a simple feature like inserting a horizontal line.

    Great timely piece of evergreen content scott,

  19. Bobbie

    This proves that isery loves company. IF anyone can answer my questions, I’ll be grateful.

  20. Cay

    I inserted a line from the home menu (right corner says Insert then choose shape, line is first choice). Ok, I inserted a color line in top and bottom of my resume, thinking I could replace the line from the template in word 2011 Mac, that is not printing in my resume and it still will not print the line. Any suggestions?

  21. James Casson


    Thank you so, so much for revealing this fantastic “hidden” but much-needed tidbit of information on this trick! Of course, this “trick”, required to accomplish what is a useful task, should have been long ago made a part of the “Insert” feature in Microsoft’s Word application. I’m delighted that I came upon your site!

    Thank you for your kindness in taking the time to share your knowledge with the masses!

    God bless

  22. Lars Finsen

    What if there’s no grid icon in the Home tab? Reinstall?


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