how to change line spacing or line height in html

When coding html pages for a website, the line spacing of the text content is probably one of attributes that is usually left as default. Most of the time, you do not even think about it and the default works the best.

The line spacing or line height is the vertical height between lines of text in a rendered html page. Almost always this spacing value is set to an appropriate value by the browser or the rendering engine. This value is usually dependent on the font of the rendered page, among other factors.

Having said that it rarely needs to be changed, once in a while you do run into situations where you would want to change this property. You might find that the font you using creates either too little or too much line height by default. It might also be a special requirement, for example the lines needs to separated more than usual for emphasis.

First of all, let us see what the default is that is used by most browsers. In most modern day browsers, the line spacing is usually set to either 110% or 120% of the pixel size or font size. This works great in almost all cases, making the text legible enough to be read.

In order to modify the line spacing, you will typically use the cascading style sheet (css). The css property that handles this is named line-height.

html line spacing css

You can specify the value for line-height just as you would specify any other size in css, either as a number, pixel size or as a percentage. Just as any other style you can specify them at any tag level, using any of the css techniques. You can inline it as well, if needed. In this post, we will use the style attribute of the p tag as examples, but you can use it in other tags as well such as body, span or div.

Using Relative Numbers

When you specify the values as a number, it is based of the current font size as the base. The current font size is multiplied by the number that you specify to calculate the line height or space between lines.

<p style="line-height:1.4">
Paragraph content here

You can also use other methods for specify the values, such as em, rem, pt etc. As an example, let’s see how to use px or pixel size.

Using pixel size

You can also specify the line height using the pixel size. This makes the spacing independent of the font that is being used, which may not always be a great idea.

<p style="line-height:16px">
Paragraph content here

Using Percentages

When you use percentages, it works similar to using the numbers. It is based of the current font size of the element. The percentage is actually a different way of specification.

<p style="line-height:134%">
Paragraph content here now has a spacing equivalent to 1.34

If you want to reduce the height, then you would use a value that is less than 100% (or less than 1 in the number method). An example would be

<p style="line-height:85%">
Paragraph content here has a spacing equivalent to 0.85.

As you would expect, negative values are not allowed in the line-height property. As a rule of thumb, always try to use either of the unit less values (percentage or number). This gives it some flexibility when it comes to different fonts that might be used.

As I mentioned, the default works the best in most cases.