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: Adding Tabs at the Beginning of a Line.

Adding Tabs at the Beginning of a Line

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 24, 2020)

One of the annoying features of Word is that the program assumes that if you press the Tab key at the beginning of a line, you want to indent the line. The program then proceeds to adjust the left margin by the distance of a normal tab stop. While this can be helpful in some circumstances, I can think of many times when I really want the tab character inserted in the document instead of adjusting margin information.

If you want to make sure that Word inserts a tab character, simply press Ctrl+Tab. This will work any time in Word, but is of the most use at the beginning of lines. As an alternative, you can turn off the indent feature completely by following these steps in Word 2002 or Word 2003:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Click on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Make sure that the Set Left- and First-Indent with Tabs and Backspaces check box is not selected.
  5. Click on OK.

If you are using Word 97 and Word 2000 you should follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Click on the Edit tab.
  3. Make sure that the Tabs and Backspace Set Left Indent check box is not selected.
  4. 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 (1075) 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: Adding Tabs at the Beginning of a Line.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Opening a Document as Read-Only

Afraid of messing up an existing document by some changes you are considering? Consider opening the document as ...

Discover More

Deriving Monthly Median Values

When processing huge amounts of data, it can be a challenge to figure out how to derive the aggregate values you need. ...

Discover More

Error Generated when Trying to Copy a Worksheet

How successful you are in copying information in Excel depends on lots of issues. This tip examines how those issues can ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Graphics and Line Height

If the inline graphics in your document appear "chopped off," it could be directly related to the formatting within the ...

Discover More

Keeping Paragraphs on the Same Page

Don't want your paragraphs to flow from one page to another? Word provides a formatting setting that forces individual ...

Discover More

Adjusting Spacing After a Paragraph

There is no need to press Enter a second time at the end of each paragraph. Let Word take care of the spacing ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.