I have to write a paper with the requirement to use "1.5 line spacing" 12pt Times New Roman. Naturally I used

Lorem ipsum…

So far so good. But I'm a litte paranoid so I checked it with Word and was suprised to get something completely different, so I made this comparison:


you may have to open that in a new tab.

But seriously? Am I missing something? Everyone recommends using \onehalfspacing but that can't be right? I checked the text with a bare minimum and the results are the same:



Lorem ipsum...

I guess my question is: what setting should I use?

  • 5
    The answers to What does 'double spacing' mean? might explain the unexpected result and provide solutions. Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:19
  • 2
    As far as I understand it the main difference is the definition of "line spacing". (La)TeX seems the to define it as the baseline-to-baseline distance (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leading). Word & co seem to use the total width of the inter-line white space as "line spacing".
    – hakaze
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:22
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    You might want to check with whomever set the requirements. Some people are picky and assume their understanding of what 1.5 spacing means is the only correct one; other, more reasonable people will not be so dogmatic; and if the person who gave the requirement uses *TeX, then the setspace solution will be just fine.
    – jon
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 23:48
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    Well, thanks. I'm studying law so I can be glad that people don't require me to use a typewriter. Since this is a "hard" requirement (they can give you a bad mark if you disregard it) I guess the \spaced{1.5} Version is the way to go...
    – niclas197
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 7:39

3 Answers 3




This equals 1.5 linespacing in Word, as was corrected by the comments (Beni cherniavsky paskin).

  • 1
    As explanation: \onehalfspacing stands for "a half", while \spacing doesn't seem limited to the spaces between lines, but more a general use of space. Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 20:19
  • 1
    From another source: Use \linespread{1.3} for "one and a half" line spacing, and \linespread{1.6} for "double" line spacing. Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 20:21
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    Care to share some link or reference to these sources?
    – Werner
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 21:07
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    well I printed and measured it (not really precise but it'll do). While \onehalfspacing has ~3,5mm between the bottom line of "h" and the top line of "T", Word has ~4,25mm and \spacing{1.5} 4,75mm. I tried \spacing{1.4} which is exactly \onehalfspacing and now end up using \spacing{1.45} which has roughly the size of Word for Times New Roman 12pt.
    – niclas197
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 8:46
  • 1
    ... however tex.stackexchange.com/questions/30073/… explains the reasons and 1.3 & 1.6 are not actually precise — it's 1.25 & 1.667 at 10pt. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 23:03

Not exactly an answer but a caveat: Some of these seem sensitive to placement.
[TL;DR: all 3 affect the whole document if placed in preamble.]
I found experimentally (in a \documentclass[a4paper,11pt]{article} doc) that:


  • before \begin{document} affects the whole document
  • between \begin{document} and \maketitle affects only the title
  • after \maketitle has zero effect

\onehalfspacing (same result as above in a 11pt doc):

  • as package option (\usepackage[onehalfspacing]{setspace}) affects the whole document
  • before \begin{document} affects the whole document
  • between \begin{document} and \maketitle affects the whole document
  • after \maketitle affects the whole document except title


  • before \begin{document} affects the whole document
  • between \begin{document} and \maketitle affects the whole document
  • after \maketitle affects the whole document except title

As you found, \spacing{1.5} results in much more spacing than the first two; \spacing{1.213} results in exactly the same. So it seems \spacing uses the same units as \linespread.

CAVEAT: it seems setspace package redefines \spacing{} and I'm not sure now if I did the above tests with the package loaded or not?

I'm still confused which I should use. setspace package is certainly the more polished option — it doesn't space footnotes and captions, and as https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/30114/7262 explains it adjusts params for 10pt/11pt/12pt which would be cumbersome and easy to forget otherwise. It's also robust wrt. placement and provides clean ways to change spacing in parts of the document.

On What does 'double spacing' mean? most opinions conclude that setspace invented its own definition of 1.5 / double spacing, while Word uses what's probably the historically common definition — it there ever was one — but it might not matter as most people requiring "double spacing" don't know what it should mean and in practice accept both...

  • 2
    \linespread{...} should be followed by \selectfont, which is issued at \begin{document}. I know no “accepted definition” of double spacing.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 9:15
  • Thanks. These are the kind of details I'd rather not know and just use a package :-) Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 9:23

Microsoft Word doesn't do line spacing correctly (unless you multiply the pt value of the text yourself and use the "Exactly" line-spacing option). If you actually measure line height in a graphics-editing program—from the top of the tallest letter to the bottom of a lowest letter—\onehalfspacing uses exactly 0.5 of this height below each line.

From http://practicaltypography.com/line-spacing.html,

For most text, the op­ti­mal line spac­ing is be­tween 120% and 145% of the point size.

In Microsoft Word,

To get line spac­ing in the 120–145% range, use a Multiple value of 1.03–1.24. (Not 1.20–1.45—as noted above, Word uses pe­cu­liar line-spac­ing math.)

So to answer your question, if you want true 1.5 line spacing, go with \onehalfspacing. However, to most people, 1.5 line spacing probably means using the (incorrect) "1.5 line spacing" option in Word. It would be best to ask your lecturer for an example paper.

  • 3
    Welcome to TeX.SE! I think the link you found is a useful one, and another relevant part is just before the part you quoted: [In Word,] “⟨Single⟩, ⟨1.5 lines⟩, and ⟨Double⟩ are equiv­a­lent to about 117%, 175%, and 233% line spac­ing, con­trary to what their names sug­gest.” Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 5:24
  • @ShreevatsaR The author gave this claim without giving any evidence. I am not sure that is right. If the paragraph line space algorithms for word and PowerPoint are the same, then the author's claim does not hold for PowerPoint. For example, for 16 pt text with 1.0 line space, the actual height of a line is 0.2825, the theoretic height is 16/72=0.2222. So the ratio is about 1.27.
    – jdhao
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 9:14

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