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: Quickly Changing Tab Alignment.

Quickly Changing Tab Alignment

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word allows you to insert tabs of all types in your paragraphs. If you use styles, changing the alignment of tab stops in a particular type of paragraph is very easy. It can be more difficult if you use explicit (non-style) formatting, however.

For instance, let's say you have a hundred different paragraphs in your document, and each of them has a left-aligned tab stop at 2.25 inches. What if you want to change that tab stop so it is centered instead? Well, you could select each paragraph and manually make the change, or you could follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. Make sure the insertion point is in the Find What box and that it contains no text.
  4. Click on the Format button. (You may need to click on More before you can see the Format button.) Word displays a list of format options.
  5. Choose Tabs from the options presented. Word displays the Find Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Find Tabs dialog box.

  7. In the Tab Stop Position dialog box, type 2.25.
  8. Click on Set.
  9. Click on OK. The text Tabs: 2.25" now appears below the Find What box.
  10. Move the insertion point to the Replace With box and make sure it contains no text.
  11. Click on the Format button. Word displays a list of format options.
  12. Choose Tabs from the options presented. Word displays the Replace Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  13. Figure 3. The Replace Tabs dialog box.

  14. In the Tab Stop Position dialog box, type 2.25.
  15. In the Alignment area, choose Center.
  16. Click on Set.
  17. Click on OK. The text Tabs: 2.25" Centered now appears below the Replace With box.
  18. Click on Replace All.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (855) 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: Quickly Changing Tab Alignment.

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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