Using Tabs to Align Text

By | Apr 24, 2008

In my previous post, I told you why using the space key to align text doesn’t work well. Today, I will show you how to use tabs to align your text properly, giving your documents the professional look your boss expects.

In the upper right corner of your Word window, where the left and top rules meet, you’ll see the tab setter

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Tab Location in Microsoft Word

The tab setter by default is the one shown, which is the left align tab. It aligns text on the left wherever you set the tab.

The other tab possibilities are:

Right tab in Microsoft Word The Right Align tab aligns text on the right wherever the tab is set.

Center tab in Microsoft Word The Center Align tab centers text at the point of the tab.

Decimal tab in Microsoft Word The Decimal Align tab aligns by decimal point. This one is handy when you want to put a column of aligned monetary amounts in a document.

Bar Tab in Microsoft Word The Bar Tab doesn’t actually align text. Rather, it inserts a vertical bar at the point of the tab. This is a good way to put a vertical bar in the text without using a drawing tool.

To set a tab, all you need to do is click on the selector in the upper left corner until the type of tab you want to set shows, and then click where you want the tab on the toolbar. If you have text already typed that you want to align, highlight the text and then set the tab. Below is a screen shot showing the different tabs in use. Click on the thumbnail to see it full size. I’ve left formatting on so you can see where the tabs are inserted.

Tab Examples in Microsoft Word

Remember, your boss is judged by the quality of correspondence with her name on it. Make your documents stand out from the crowd by their quality and polish.

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9 Comments so far
  1. Lindsay (8 comments) April 24, 2008 8:19 pm

    Thanks, I always have trouble with the dumb tabs! Sometimes, I’m guilty of just adding spaces. And obviously that doesn’t always work too well!

    Lindsay’s last blog post..Dog bites dog: Who’s to blame?

  2. Renato (1 comments) May 14, 2008 7:47 am

    Thanks for the tips, i never had figured out how this tab button works.

    Renato’s last blog post..DVD

  3. graphiste (1 comments) June 1, 2008 1:53 pm

    thank you..
    very usefull

    graphiste’s last blog post..” Quality Score Adwords “Un facteur d’optimisation

  4. Curt (2 comments) June 24, 2008 6:44 am

    Thanks, that certainly simplifies things for me. I usually just get frustrated with tabs.
    Funny, I can build a computer from scratch, but can’t use a keyboard properly!

    Curt’s last blog post..Doing Daily Backups? I Hope So!

  5. Graphic art (1 comments) July 16, 2009 9:59 am

    thank you for the important tips about tabs .i am a computer operator but i don’t know about this thank you again..

  6. Jodith (189 comments) July 19, 2009 11:27 am

    I’ve found that many, even other admins, don’t understand how to use tabs properly, which is, of course, why I wrote this post *laughs*.

  7. learning centre (1 comments) March 4, 2010 5:29 am

    Thanks so much for the information with reference to tabs. I have to admit i am one guilty party for just using spaces and unfortunately have the horrible side effects to go with it.

    Your post was a great help. Thanks!

  8. Lisa (4 comments) November 17, 2010 8:12 am

    I found this article to be very informative. The use of tabs vs. using the space bar is a problem that has perplexed many of us. Yet, because I was able to work around it I didn’t take the time to understand the polished product that I could be producing and time I could be saving. It’s important in all business to Do It Right! What ever business you are in … sales, marketing, finance, entertainment, copywriting, SEO… it’s successful when you do it right and don’t take short cuts.

  9. neys (1 comments) November 18, 2010 8:57 pm

    I usually just get frustrated with tabs. Funny, I can build a computer from scratch, but can’t use a keyboard properly. Your post was a great help.

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