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: Deleting All Tab Stops.

Deleting All Tab Stops

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 20, 2014)

Joan is looking for the quickest way to delete all of the tab stops in a Word document. She wonders, specifically, if there is a keyboard shortcut that will do it.

There is no keyboard shortcut to remove tab stops—you must use the Tabs dialog box to accomplish the task. While you can use the keyboard to call up the Tabs dialog box and make selections within it, doing so doesn't technically count as a "keyboard shortcut." Here is the quickest way to delete all tab stops:

  1. Press Ctrl+A. This action selects the entire current document.
  2. Choose Tabs from the Format menu. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  4. Click the Clear All button.
  5. Click OK.

Some have suggested that a quick way to delete tab stops is to simply select all the text (Ctrl+A) and then press Ctrl+Q. What this does is to remove all explicit paragraph formatting from the text. While it is true that the tab stops are a paragraph format, Ctrl+Q just removes any explicitly added tab stops; it sets the paragraphs back to whatever formatting is defined for each paragraph's style. So if the underlying paragraph style has tab stops defined, then those tab stops remain after Ctrl+Q is pressed—not all tab stops are removed.

If you need to remove the tab stops from a large number of documents, then you may want to use a macro to do the job. The following single-line macro removes all the tab stops from all paragraphs in the current document:

Sub TabsGone()
    ActiveDocument.Paragraphs.TabStops.ClearAll
End Sub

You should understand two things about this discussion. First, deleting all tab stops doesn't get rid of any of the tab characters in the document. The best way to get rid of those is to use Word's Find and Replace capabilities.

Second, when you get rid of tab stops, Word's default tab stops automatically come into play. By design, the default tab stops are every half-inch, although you can change the default tab stop settings as described in other issues of WordTips. What you cannot do, however, is get rid of the default tab stops; there is no way to do this.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10190) 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: Deleting All 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Adjusting Times for Time Zones

Collect a series of times in a worksheet, and you might need to adjust those times for various time zones. This involves a ...

Discover More

Generating Double-Digit Random Numbers

Normally you use the RAND and RANDBETWEEN functions to generate random numbers. What if you want to generate random numbers ...

Discover More

Printing Multiple Selections

Need to print several portions of a worksheet all on a single piece of paper? Here's an easy way you can get what you need ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Clearing All Tab Stops

Tab stops allow you to modify the horizontal position at which text is positioned on a line. If you want to get rid of all ...

Discover More

Aligning Text on a Specific Character

Want to use tab stops to align text according to the position of a certain character? It's easy to do if that character is a ...

Discover More

Changing Default Tab Stops

If you don't explicitly set tab stops in a paragraph, Word relies upon a default tab stop distance. You can adjust that ...

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}] 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 four less than 9?

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
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.