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: Entering Tabs in a Table.

Entering Tabs in a Table

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2013)


When you are entering text in a table, some of the keyboard keys don't function as they do when you are working in the body of your document. One of those keys is the Tab key. If you press Tab, the insertion point moves to the next cell in the table, or if you are at the end of the table, it creates a new row.

There may be times, however, when you want a tab character in the table's text. In order to insert a tab, you can use either of these methods:

  • Press Ctrl+Tab.
  • Hold down the Alt key as you type 0009 on the numeric keypad.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1087) 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: Entering Tabs in a Table.

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 four less than 8?

2016-12-05 21:03:56


My tab key quit working and won't create a now row.

2016-11-30 01:54:06


Thank you! Previously I was creating a tab outside the table and cutting and pasting that tab into the table.

2016-09-02 04:52:25


worked like a charm. thank you very much.

2016-06-10 11:50:59


This behavior seems backwards to me. Is there a way to reverse it so TAB always enters a tab character, and CTRL+TAB inserts a row?

2016-04-03 13:22:13


Using Word 2013:
>If< all other Word dialogs are closed, then the Ctrl-Tab does work, just like with old versions of Word.

>But<, if another dialog is open, such as "Find and Replace", then, yes, Ctrl-Tab will just cycle you between dialogs.

2015-12-08 09:14:06


Apologies, I hadn't read the comment from Nedeljko, posted 19 Sept 15.

OFFICE TAB is the reason Ctrl+Tab doesn't work in table cell. So, as the advice, I've turned off the option and now Ctrl+Tab works as it did before. I've still got Office Tab too, working well. :)

Many thanks, Nedeljko

2015-12-08 09:07:23


Unfortunately, Ctrl+tab switch programs/windows for me. I haven't assigned this combination to another shortcut. It's always worked until I got Word 2010.

I'd be very grateful of any advice. Thanks

2015-09-19 01:25:22


Combination CTRL+TAB doesn't work if you using add-in OFFICE TAB. This shortcut is reserved for changing tabs with documents. Turn off that option in OFFICE TAB -> Options -> Option center...

2015-08-19 21:33:45


Resolved: on my machine there needs to be a space between the last character and where you want the ctrl+tab tab

2015-08-19 21:25:26


Ewald 17 Dec 2014, 21:07
CTRL-TAB only moves the paragraph left indent over. It doesn't insert a tab in the text.

1 agree

2015-02-07 02:48:49


Thank you so much. It works! It works for MS Word 2010 too!

2014-12-17 21:07:20


CTRL-TAB only moves the paragraph left indent over. It doesn't insert a tab in the text.

I am using Word 2013.

2014-11-14 16:36:56


Thank you! Both work for Word 2007

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