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Microsoft Word 2003/2004

Setting Tabs

In the days of the typewriter, fonts were monospace characters (i.e., spaces between characters were equal). Now, computers use proportional space fonts (i.e., characters and spaces use only the amount of space needed). With monospace fonts, you could press the space bar to align text, but if it is tried with proportional space fonts, you may end up with undesired results, even if it looks good on the screen.

To avoid problems with text alignment, use tabs rather than spaces. The default tab settings for Microsoft Word are every half-inch. If you do not like the Word settings, you can set your own tabs.

return to topTab Types

Tabs come in different types which are defined by the way text aligns with the tab. The following table explains the different tab types.

Tab Type
Windows Icon
Macintosh Icon
Purpose
Left (Normal) Left Tab icon Left Tab icon The Left tab is similar to the typewriter tab. Text will begin at the tab position and continue to the right of the tab.
Right Right Tab icon Right Tab icon With the Right tab, text will end at the tab and flow to the left.
Center Center Tab icon Center Tab icon The Center tab works similar to centering a line of text but instead of centering between margins, text is centered at the tab location.
Decimal Decimal icon Decimal icon The Decimal tab is used to line up numbers and text with a period. This is useful for a group of numbers or a list of instructions.
Bar Bar icon Bar icon The Bar tab is used to add a vertical line at that position. This could be used when you want to set off some text.

Setting a tab does not automatically align your text. You still have to press [Tab] at the appropriate places.

return to topWorking with Tabs from the Ruler

Working with tabs using the Ruler option is a quick and easy way to set and adjust tabs. The Ruler options allow you to set, move, delete, or change tabs.

Working with Tabs from the Ruler: Setting Tabs

Windows:

  1. Select the paragraph(s) that will receive new tab settings

  2. To select the desired tab type, click the TAB TYPE icon until the desired tab type is selected
    NOTE: For definitions of the different tab types, refer to Tab Types.
    Tab Type icon

  3. In the white area of the Ruler, click where you want the tab
    NOTE: Be sure to click below any numbers or dash marks.

Macintosh:

  1. Select the paragraph(s) that will receive new tab settings

  2. From the Tab Type pull-down list, select the desired tab type
    NOTE: For definitions of the different tab types, refer to Tab Types.
    Tab Type pull-down list

  3. In the white area of the Ruler, click where you want the tab
    NOTE: Be sure to click below any numbers or dash marks.

Working with Tabs from the Ruler: Moving Tabs

  1. On the Ruler, click and hold the tab you want to move

  2. Drag the tab to the new location and release the mouse button

Working with Tabs from the Ruler: Deleting Tabs

  1. Click and hold the tab you want to delete

  2. Drag the tab into the document area of the screen and release the mouse button

Working with Tabs from the Ruler: Changing Tab Type

To change the tab type, you can either delete the tab and add a new tab of the correct type or you can use the Tabs dialog box.

return to topWorking with Tabs from the Tabs Dialog Box

The Tabs dialog box allows you to adjust the placement and type of tab. Although the Ruler option is a quicker way to adjust tabs, the dialog box allows you to use leaders and enter specific tab locations.

In the Tabs dialog box, you can set leaders for the tabs. Leaders are lines (solid, dashed, or dotted) that appear in the blank space created by a tab. The most common use for a leader is in a table of contents where a dotted line leads up to the page number. Leaders guide the reader's eye across the page.

Working with Tabs from the Tabs Dialog Box: Setting Tabs

  1. Select the paragraph(s) that will receive new tab settings

  2. From the Format menu, select Tabs…
    The Tabs dialog box appears.
    Tabs dialog box

  3. In the Tab stop position text box, type the desired value (in inches)

  4. Adjust the tab alignment and leader if necessary

  5. Click SET

  6. To set additional tabs, repeat steps 3-5

  7. After all tabs have been set, click OK

Working with Tabs from the Tabs Dialog Box: Moving Tabs

Moving tabs in the Tabs dialog box involves adding a new tab and deleting the old one.

  1. Select the desired paragraph(s) containing the tab you want to remove

  2. From the Format menu, select Tabs…
    The Tabs dialog box appears.

  3. From the Tab stop position scroll box, select the desired tab

  4. Click CLEAR

  5. In the Tab stop position text box, type the new tab location

  6. Adjust the tab alignment and leader if necessary

  7. Click SET

  8. Click OK

Working with Tabs from the Tabs Dialog Box: Deleting Tabs

  1. Place the insertion point within the paragraph with the tab settings you want to delete

  2. From the Format menu, select Tabs…
    The Tabs dialog box appears.

  3. From the Tab stop position scroll box, select the tab to be deleted

  4. Click CLEAR
    HINT:
    To delete all tabs, click CLEAR ALL

  5. To delete other tabs, repeat steps 3-4

  6. Click OK

Working with Tabs from the Tabs Dialog Box: Changing Tab Type

  1. Select the desired paragraph(s) whose tab settings you want to change

  2. From the Format menu, select Tabs…
    The Tabs dialog box appears.

  3. From the Tab stop position scroll box, select the tab to be changed

  4. Under Alignment, select the new tab type
    NOTE: Depending on the text alignment, the tab position may need to be adjusted. For more information, refer to Moving Tabs.

  5. Click SET

  6. To change other tabs, repeat steps 3-5

  7. Click OK

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