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: Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph.

Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 15, 2015)


Dot leaders are dots (which look like periods) that appear to the left of information. Dot leaders are often used in tables of contents or in some tabular material. Word allows you to automatically place dot leaders in tabular material. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is in the paragraph in which you want the dot leaders.
  2. Choose the Tabs option from the Format menu. You will see the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  4. Either select an existing tab stop location, or enter a tab stop measurement in the Tab Stop Position box.
  5. Make sure the Alignment type is set as desired.
  6. In the Leader area, click on the second option, which looks like a line of periods or dots.
  7. Click on Set.
  8. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (618) 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: Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five less than 8?

2015-03-18 21:48:54

Lynette Ford

`I don't think I will understand how to insert leaders in a paragraph. Mainly in the Tab dialog box. Trouble aligning margins. From there you must go to the tab dialog box how to apply add leaders. This a very frustrated feeling.

2015-03-18 21:35:57

Lynette Ford

Well I just started Word Processing in 2012 I took Computer Familiarization I had to take it three times. I feel real ridiculous because classmates in the class they had a lot of experience with Word Processing. I was having problems with the homework the assignments. I had difficulties reading the textbook. There a chapter of leaders,but when it came to do the test it said to add leaders. I didn't know how to do it.

2014-06-14 10:32:11

CArol Berrett

I follow the directions for "Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph" but the command will only work for one line of my Table of Contents so I have to re-enter the "Tabs" command at every line.

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