How to Easily Change First Page Margins in Word

If you’re writing the degree program you’re in, SBL style normally requires four 1-inch page margins.1

There are two common kinds of exceptions to this:2

  1. Your title page, which should have 1-inch side margins but 2-inch top and bottom margins.
  2. The first page of a major section (e.g., your essay body, a chapter, an appendix, your bibliography), which should have a 2-inch top margin.

For title pages, using section breaks to achieve the necessary margin sizes is useful. But this usefulness partly depends there being a hard division in content between your title page and what comes next.

Your title page is only ever going to be one page. You’re never going to make edits to your title page and want text to flow over from there onto the next page.

When (Not) to Use Section Breaks to Change Essay Margins

The same isn’t true in the body of the other major logical sections of your document.

For these, you may very well want to make a change on the first page. That change might need to change where the division falls between that page and the one following.

In this context, using section breaks to manipulate the top margin may have undesirable side effects.

Not least among these is potentially having to manipulate the section break or the text around it multiple times in order to get the margins to work like you’re wanting.

There is, though, a much easier way to change the top margin here without creating a new section.

An Easier Way to Change First Page Margins

And that easier way is simply not to change the top margin at all.

That might sound counter intuitive. But you’re really only after the visual representation of a 2-inch top margin at the beginning of a logical section.

Word and similar applications put different things at the top of the page (e.g., margin, header, gutter). But what the software calls what it puts there isn’t something SBL style concerns itself with.

With that in mind, there emerges another much easier way of getting the page layout specified in the Student Supplement. And it doesn’t actually require you to manipulate what Word calls the top “margin” for the first page.

Instead, you’re already familiar with how Word lets you choose your font size in a unit called “points.” And aside from some other complexities that don’t matter for this discussion of margin size, 72 type points are equal to 1 inch.

You already have the other 1 inch down from the top of the page inside what Word calls its “margin” proper.

So, all you need is 1 more inch. And to create the visual effect of this inch, you can simply add 72 points of space before the first element on that page (e.g., paragraph, heading).3

You can add these 72 points via the paragraph formatting dialog box as shown below.

You can add this formatting to individual paragraphs. Or if you distinctively start new logical sections with the same element (e.g., a first-level heading), you can specify this additional spacing via that element’s style.

Conclusion

So when you’re setting the top margin of a main logical section in your document, you do need to change the visual margin.

But that doesn’t mean you need to go through the mess of using the margin function in Word to get the job done.

What you’re essentially looking for is the visual result on the page. And it’s much easier to get that result by simply adding whitespace before the first element on that page.


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  1. Melanie Greer Nogalski et al., Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition, ed. Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed, rev. ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), §§2.1, 2.8. Header image provided by Etienne Girardet

  2. Nogalski et al., Student Supplement, §§2.11, 3.3–3.5. The table of contents for a longer document is, however, an exception to this rule and should have a 1-inch top margin. Nogalski et al., Student Supplement, §3.2. 

  3. You can come close to creating this additional first-page spacing by entering blank paragraphs at the top of the page. But doing so makes that spacing subject to some of the peculiarities of font and line sizing that you don’t have to worry about otherwise. 

You Need to Budget Your Time to Avoid Guilt and Shame

Different people prioritize different things.1 To a large degree, that’s a good thing.

It means that different people act in different ways. It means that whole swaths of things happen that wouldn’t if everyone only ever prioritized the same things (cf. 1 Cor 12:12–31).

But to put it mildly, the world doesn’t always work as it should. Sometimes, that means other people will have (or you will find reason to think they have) different expectations for what you should prioritize.

These real or suspected differences in expectations about where you should be spending your time can then easily result in social pressure.

And that social pressure is there ready to serve up a healthy portion of guilt and shame if your time budget differs from the norm it decrees.2

1. You will prioritize.

If you don’t create a budget for your finances, someone else will.

That “someone else” might be the group that designed the impulse buy area at a favorite brick-and-mortar retailer. Or it might be the marketing department that put together that advertisement campaign for that slick technology company.

The point is culture constantly suggests mutually exclusive options about where you should spend your money.

The same is true with your time. As Greg McKeown has rightly observed,

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.3

The only trouble is that “someone else’s” values might not be yours.

The “someone else” might think you should spend your time one way. Or you might at least think they think that.

But if you haven’t budgeted your time to decide what you think you need to prioritize, you won’t know whether going with the flow helps or hurts your values.

And if you don’t know what helps or hurts, there’s a good chance you may get pulled along in the wake of the social pressure coming at you from “someone else.”

2. You will give an account.

On the other hand, on the last day, none of us will be able to pass the buck to “someone else.” We’ll each be held accountable for the choices we ourselves have made (cf. Rom 2:16; 2 Cor 5:10).

Those choices will include how we decided to spend our time—whether those decisions have been intentional or by default.4

So the real question is not “How can I avoid running counter to the social pressure headed my way?”

But even assuming that it is headed your way, the question is, in the end, “Who would you rather disappoint?”

If “someone else’s” values are different from what you’re convinced yours should be, let that “someone else” be more disappointed.

Let yourself, instead, be more likely to hear that the judge thinks you’ve done well (cf. Matt 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27).

Conclusion

If you’re at all connected to other people, they’ll make requests, present needs, and show opportunities to you for things you can do with the time you have.

When it’s the right thing to do, saying “yes” to helping (and following through!) is an excellent and commendable way of showing kindness, among other things.

And if you’ve put the work in to budget your time, you’ll have a better sense of when saying “yes” is, in fact, the right thing for you to do.

On the other hand, saying “no” to a commitment might be less comfortable in the moment.

But that “no” might be what’s necessary for you to devote yourself to something more important. And when it is, it’s also a necessary exercise of self-discipline, among other things.

It’s a delicate balancing act. But when last I checked, both kindness and self-discipline were fruits of the same Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22–23).

And if you carefully work through how you need to prioritize your time, you’ll have a much better idea of how you should be exercising both your “yes” and your “no.”


  1. Header image provided by STIL

  2. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 

  3. Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 10. 

  4. For related discussion, see McKeown, Essentialism, 33–40, 49–62; Matt Perman, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, expanded ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014). 

You Need to Budget Your Time to Avoid Schedule Crises

Life happens. And when life happens, plans often need to change.1 The same is true for time budgets.

But budgeting your time can help put you in a better position to avoid additional time and energy spent managing schedule crises.2

1. Schedules don’t always go as planned.

When you’re budgeting your time, there’s always the danger of unintentionally falling victim to the “planning fallacy.”

More often than we might care to admit, we tend to underestimate how much time a given commitment will really require.3 When that happens, schedules get pinched.

Fulfilling your commitments becomes more difficult simply because you’re operating under the greater constraints that have followed from that overly optimistic planning.

2. Schedules unplanned don’t always go.

But if you haven’t budgeted your time in the first place, you’re even more vulnerable to scheduling crises.

The tendency to fall into planning fallacy is still at work. But you haven’t taken the initial step toward confronting this tendency that budgeting your time entails. The tendency to exaggerate what can get done by when doesn’t get reined in.

All of this means that, when challenges arise, you’re more likely to find fulfilling your commitments to be even more difficult. You’re also more likely to find that you’re not in a position to fulfill them, either at all or at least as well as they deserve.

If you haven’t budgeted your time, your schedule might actually be over budget. But you have no way of knowing. Your only sense is your current guess at whether it’s balanced or not.

Conclusion

If your time budget is overspent, you might not immediately get hit with the reality of having too little time for too many commitments.

It might take some time. But inevitably it will come to the point where too many commitments cross the line of too few hours.

Still, that doesn’t have to happen, and creating a time budget is a great way to start having fewer crises come up in your schedule.


  1. Header image provided by STIL

  2. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 

  3. For further discussion, see Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 182–83. 

You Need to Budget Your Time to Get the Most Out of It

Budgeting your time helps you get the most out of it in two ways.1

1. You can do more things.

First, just like budgeted money, time tends to go farther when you have a plan for it. So, budgeting your time will help you get more things done with the time you have.

Getting more things done is a good thing. But that’s actually a less important way of getting the most out of your time.

2. You can do more important things.

Second—and more important—having a time budget will give you an important tool for getting the most out of your time qualitatively. That is, it will help you focus on doing better things than you might otherwise.

Often, restriction or not doing or not being able to do something comes to mind pretty readily when thinking about budgeting. But a budget isn’t simply a negative plan.

Instead, whether it’s a financial budget or a time budget, a budget presents only what’s included in it. And what’s included is there because you’ve chosen to prioritize it. You’ve determined that what’s in the budget is more important than what isn’t.

If you decide something else not currently in your time budget needs to take priority, that’s great. You can always change your time budget as you need to.

But by adding a commitment, you also need to subtract somewhere else to keep your time budget in balance.

And when you do that, you have a mechanism for making yourself feel the cost of that new commitment.

If it is a higher priority than something else currently in the budget, press ahead with the change. But if not, do you really want to spend your time, your most finite resource, on something less important?

You’d probably never choose that intentionally. But having a time budget can help keep you from regretting effectively having made exactly that choice unintentionally or by default.2

Conclusion

Building a time budget helps you wrestle through intentional decisions about the trade offs that different commitments require.3

Once you have that budget, its hard-won “balance” is an incredibly useful tool for reminding you of the costs that different current and possible future commitments entail.

It’s a mechanism for helping you actually prioritize what you find important, even amid constant pulls to do otherwise.


  1. Header image provided by STIL. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 

  2. See also Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 33–40. 

  3. For further, helpful discussion of trade offs, see McKeown, Essentialism, 49–62. 

You Need to Budget Your Time to Manage Your Commitments

If you think in terms of financial expenditures, you have vastly more opportunities to spend money than you have funds available to you.1

If you’re Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, the size of your financial net might be wider. But it’s still quite limited by comparison with the world’s total opportunities for expenditures. Even if you use debt, there’s a ceiling to how much you can use.

1. Your time is limited.

The same is true with your time—only more so. Everyone gets only 168 hours a week to spend.

You might incur “sleep debt” to try to stretch the number of hours you have. But that’s a losing proposition.2 And it still doesn’t allow you to spend more than your 168 hours from a given week.

Time is a zero-sum game. When you spend it on one thing, you can’t spend that same time on anything else.

So, any commitment you make—whether it’s to a person, a project, an event, or whatever—represents a claim on your 168 weekly hours.

2. Your possible commitments are unlimited.

But there’s nothing out there in the aether stopping you from committing to more than you can do in the hours you have. So you can very easily make more commitments than you have the time to fulfill.

The only trouble is … that’s not honest to yourself or to the other people involved. Any excess commitment you make is, by definition, going to get shortchanged in some amount or left entirely unfulfilled.

And shirking commitments you’ve made isn’t a good practice—for you or anyone else.

Conclusion

But that doesn’t have to be your story. You can start “right-sizing” your commitments to your time.

You just need to work through them both intentionally to decide what does and doesn’t make the cut.

That will be an iterative rather than a once-for-all process. But you don’t have to wait to begin. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to better fulfill the commitments you have.


  1. Header image provided by STIL. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 

  2. Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 91–102. 

Why You Need to Budget Your Time

Budgeting time requires different strategies for different contexts and schedules.1

Your schedule might be regular, irregular, or some of both. But whatever it looks like, there’s a corresponding strategy you can use to budget your time.

Still, saying all of that leaves out one very important question: Do you really need to budget your time in the first place?

Reasons You Need to Budget Your Time

I’d like to suggest that the answer to this question is a firm “Yes” for at least four reasons.2

In particular, you need to budget your time in order to

  1. Manage your commitments because your time is limited, but your possible commitments are unlimited.
  2. Get the most out of it not only by doing more things but also—and more importantly—by doing more important things.
  3. Avoid schedule crises. Schedules don’t always go to plan. And if you haven’t balanced your scheduling budget in advance, you’ll find yourself in larger crises more often when the unexpected arrives.
  4. Avoid guilt and shame. You will spend your time. How you spend it reflects what you chose or endorsed as a priority. If you spend your time intentionally, you will disappoint someone at some point. But you don’t have to feel guilt or shame about that if you know you’ve done your best to choose what’s most important.

Conclusion

In short, you can spend your time intentionally. Or it will get spent for you.

Intentionality is critical to knowing what you should do with the time you have. And creating a time budget can help you ensure you’re making the choices about your time that you really feel are the best.


  1. Header image provided by STIL

  2. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.