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Aligning Decimal Numbers in Tables

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Aligning Decimal Numbers in Tables.

When working in tables, there is no documented way of aligning decimal numbers. You can, if desired, add a decimal tab stop in a cell and then press Ctrl+Tab to align the number to the tab stop, but there is an even easier way. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells whose contents you want aligned.
  2. Click repeatedly on the tab stop marker at the left edge of the ruler, stopping when you see the symbol for a decimal tab.
  3. Click on the ruler above the selected cells, at the location where you want the numbers aligned.

Presto! The numbers get aligned as per the tab stop. You should note, however, that this is the only tab option (decimal) that works in this manner.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (611) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Aligning Decimal Numbers in Tables.

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Comments for this tip:

Michala    30 Sep 2015, 07:47
Great! This is what I was looking for. I thought that the tab stopper (or how it is called) do not work in tables, since I always used the tabulator trying to align the cells. But this way it works (first highlight the cells, and then set the tab-stop). Thanks
Makr Murphy    17 Sep 2015, 19:13
Does not seem to work - I tried the tip regarding double clicking the left indent marker but all I get is the page set-up dialog. Word is probably the most annoying software out of the 30 odd packages I use but I'm trapped in the Microsoft corporate hell for my sins
Pascale    20 Jul 2015, 11:43
I encountered another problem, and found a work-around for that.

If you also use a different non-numeric character after the decimals (for example, an asterisk* to indicate significance), you should define this character as the digit grouping symbol (you do this is the same screen as where you can define the character for the decimal seperator (see link below))
Pascale    20 Jul 2015, 10:56
Works perfectly!

If it doesn't, the problem is probably that your Windows setting has defined the decimal separator with a different character (for example, a comma instead of a dot). Need an explanation how to change this? Go here:
Christine    12 May 2015, 10:03
It worked first time - even in Word 2010. Just did one column and then copied over the format with the painter.

Excellent tip.
Arjan    30 Jan 2015, 05:10
You also have to use left alignment for it to work.
Bruce    03 Nov 2014, 11:31
1. Highlight the column you want to align.
2. In the Ruler, use your cursor to insert a Tab for where you want the decimals to align
3. Double click the Left Indent marker. (The Left Indent marker is the little square)
4. In the Paragraphs dialog box, click Tabs.
5. In the Tabs dialog box, locate Alignment.
6. Select Decimal
7. Click OK

Note: To adjust the alignment to the left or right, repeat steps 3-4 and adjust the Tab Stop Position number.
Mona    23 Sep 2014, 13:01
This isn't working for me. The decimal points remain where I put them; they don't move into alignment.
Brenda    30 May 2013, 16:54
Ana, I had the same frustration with this presto tip in Word 2010. I found that the first tip given works, i.e. after setting your decimal tabs, use Ctrl-Tab when the cursor is in the cell that you want to decimal align, then type your number and it should work.
Ana    09 Jul 2012, 06:35
I tried this. It doesn't work. The decimal points are still all over the place instead of being aligned.

And I have to hand this table in like this. I am so screwed.

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