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: Precisely Adjusting Tab Stops.

Precisely Adjusting Tab Stops

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 9, 2016)

Tab stops allow you to quickly and accurately align information on a line in your document. If you are familiar with typewriters, then you are already familiar with the concept of tab stops. (Truth be told, I think that fewer and fewer people each year are still familiar with typewriters.) Word goes far beyond the rudimentary tab stops in typewriters, however. It allows you to set four different types of tab stops, as has been detailed other tips.

Once you have set your tab stops, you can adjust them easily. There are two ways you can do this. One of these ways is with the ruler, as described in a different tip. The other way is with the Tabs option, available from the Format menu. To adjust tab stops using this method, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is in the paragraph in which you want to adjust tabs.
  2. Choose the Tabs option from the Format menu. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  4. In the tab list below the Tab Stop Position box, select the tab stop you wish to adjust.
  5. Change the Alignment type, if desired.
  6. Click on Set.
  7. In the Tab Stop Position box, enter a measurement for a new tab stop position, then perform steps 4 and 5.
  8. Click on OK to close the Tabs dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1007) 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: Precisely Adjusting Tab Stops.

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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