Set, edit, and clear tabs in Word 2003

Tab stops (tab stop: A location on the horizontal ruler that indicates how far to indent text or where to begin a column of text.) enable you to move lines of text to the left or right, to center them, or to align them in relation to a decimal character — even to place a solid vertical line in selected lines of text. You can set individual tab stops or multiple tab stops, change the default (default: A predefined setting. You can accept the default option settings, or you can change them to suit your own preferences.) tab stops, and clear or move tab stops. You can also automatically insert a line of leader characters (leader character: A solid, dotted, or dashed line that is used in a table of contents and that fills the space used by a tab character.) — such as dashes, dots, or lines — before a tab stop.

What do you want to do?

Set individual tab stops

Set multiple tab stops

Add a dashed, dotted, or solid leader line before a tab stop

Move or clear tab stops in selected text

Clear all tab stops in a document

Set individual tab stops

By default, tab stops in Word are set at half-inch intervals. To specify other tab locations, you can set your own tab stops. When you set a tab stop in a document, a corresponding tab stop marker appears on the horizontal ruler (horizontal ruler: A bar marked off in units of measure (such as inches) that is displayed across the top of the document window.) at the top of the window.

Tab stop marker

  1. In the document, click where you want to set a tab stop.
  2. Click Left Tab Button image at the left end of the horizontal ruler until it changes to display the type of tab that you want.
  3. Select one of the following types of tabs:
Button image A Left Tab stop sets the left end of the text line. As you type, the text fills toward the right.
Button image A Center Tab stop sets the position at the middle of the text line. As you type, the text centers on this position.
Button image A Right Tab stop sets the right end of the text line. As you type, the text fills toward the left.
Button image A Decimal Tab stop aligns numbers around a decimal point. Without regard to the number of digits, the decimal point remains in the same position. (When you use this type of tab stop, you must align the numbers around a decimal character. You cannot use any other type of character — such as a comma, a hyphen, or an ampersand symbol.)
Button image A Bar Tab places a solid vertical line through selected text.
  1.  Note   Unlike other tabs, a bar tab is added as soon as you click the ruler. If you don't clear the bar tab stop before you print your document, the vertical line is printed.

  2. Click the horizontal ruler where you want to set the tab stop.

Tip    To set tab stops by specifying precise measurements, click Tabs on the Format menu, type the measurements that you want under Tab stop position, and then click Set.

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Set multiple tab stops

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs in which you want to set multiple tab stops.
  2. On the Format menu, click Tabs.
  3. For each tab stop that you want to insert, under Tab stop position, type the position for the tab stop, and then click Set.
  4. Under Alignment, select the option that you want.
  5. Under Leader, click the option that you want, and then click Set.
  6. Click OK.

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Add a dashed, dotted, or solid leader line before a tab stop

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs in which you want to add a leader line before a tab stop.
  2. On the Format menu, click Tabs.
  3. Under Tab stop position, type the position for a new tab, or select an existing tab stop to which you want to add leader characters.
  4. Under Alignment, click the option that you want.
  5. Under Leader, click the option that you want, and then click Set.

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Move or clear tab stops in selected text

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs in which you want to clear or move individual tab stops.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To move a tab stop     Drag the tab marker to the right or left on the horizontal ruler.
    • To clear a tab stop     Drag the tab marker down from the horizontal ruler horizontal ruler
    • To clear all tab stops in the selected paragraph     On the Format menu, click Tabs, and then, in the Tabs dialog box, click Clear All.

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Clear all tab stops in a document

  1. Press CTRL+A to select all of the text in the document.
  2. On the Format menu, click Tabs.
  3. In the Tabs dialog box, click Clear All.

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Applies to:
Word 2003