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: Precise Ruler Adjustments.

Precise Ruler Adjustments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 12, 2016)

You already know that you can precisely adjust items by using the various dialog boxes that Word makes available through the use of the menus. For instance, you can precisely adjust tab settings by using the Tabs dialog box, which is displayed by choosing Tabs from the Format menu.

There are times, however, when you may want to do some precise formatting using the mouse, instead of pulling up a dialog box. If the formatting element is displayed on the Ruler, you are in luck—Word provides a handy way to be very precise. All you need to do is hold down the Alt key as you use the mouse to drag different items around on the Ruler. When you do this, Word displays distances on the Ruler very precisely, allowing you to adjust positioning to a hundredth of an inch.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1729) 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: Precise Ruler Adjustments.

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. ...


Getting the Expected Space Before a Heading

If your heading styles are designed to add extra space before the heading, you may be surprised when that extra space is ...

Discover More

Resetting a Function Key

Function keys are often used, in Word, for common operations. You can, if desired, change the way in which a function key ...

Discover More

Protecting a Worksheet's Format

You can protect various parts of your worksheets by using the tools built into Excel. One thing you can protect is the ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Watermarks in Columns

If you are creating small flyers (two per page), you may want to include a watermark graphic in the background of each of ...

Discover More

Detailed Measurements

Want to know exactly how far something on the ruler is from the left and right margins of your document? It's easy to ...

Discover More

Formatting Differences between Word Versions

Create a document in one version of Word on one machine and then open that document in a different version of Word on a ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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}] 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 five less than 8?

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.

Newest Tips

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.