Using Tab Stops
Tab stops can be useful when creating an organized list in a Word document. For example, suppose that you had to create a document that listed the names of the people in your company and also in which department they worked. In this case, it may be helpful to create a document that contains two columns of information: one for the names of the people, and another for the names of the departments. Using tabs in your Word document can allow you to easily accomplish this type of task.
While it is more common to insert tabs into your document prior to writing the lines of text, tabs can be inserted either before or after text has been written. Tabs can also change from section to section within a single document. Actually, each line in a document can have its own unique set of tab stops. So, in summary, tabs do not have to be placed in a strictly uniform fashion throughout your entire document.
Before you add tab stops to a line in your document, ensure that you have the ruler enabled. Once you have the ruler turned on, you will be able to see the tab toggle button at the far left end of the horizontal ruler. It is called a “toggle” button because when you click the button, you toggle between the various types of tabs that are available for use: “Left,” “Center,” “Right,” “Decimal,” and “Bar.” In addition to these buttons, you will also have buttons that allow you to set the “First Line Indent” and the “Hanging Indent.” Since these last two buttons are redundant and have already been discussed in Introductory Word, we will focus in this lesson on the use of the tab buttons.
To insert a tab into a line of text, first click into the line, or select the lines of text to which you want to insert tabs. Then click the tab button in the horizontal ruler until its face displays the type of tab that you want to insert. If you want to know which tab type is currently selected, hold your mouse pointer over this button and a screen tip will display the name of the tab type. Next, click in the horizontal ruler at the position at which you want to place a tab of the currently selected type. The type of tab that you insert affects the way in which text will align when entered next to the tab. Therefore, left tabs will left-align adjacent text, right tabs will right-align adjacent text, center tabs will center-align adjacent text, and the decimal tab aligns numbers by their decimal points. The bar tab, which is often used in conjunction with the other tabs, simply draws a vertical bar when you tab over its position within the line. It does not in any way affect the placement of text. It is purely for aesthetics.
To remove a tab from the ruler for a selected line (or lines), first click into the line of document that you wish to change, or select the lines that you wish to change. Next, click and drag the tab stop that you wish to remove from the horizontal ruler and drop it into the document area. That will remove the tab stop from the selection.
You can reposition tabs that you have added to the horizontal ruler by simply clicking and dragging the small black icons of the tabs shown within the ruler to a new location within the ruler.
You should also be aware that if you set tabs for a line of text at the end of your document, when you press the “Enter” key to move to a new line, the tab stops that you created on the previous line will be automatically added to the next line. If you no longer want to have the same tabs stops, you will need to remove them from the new line.
Using the Tabs Dialog Box
Next, we need to examine to use of the tabs dialog box. For upgrading users, this is the dialog box that you used to be able to open by selecting “Format| Tabs…” from the Menu Bar. In order to access this dialog box in Word 2010-2007, you must click the “Home” tab in the Ribbon, and then click the “Paragraph” dialog box button that is located in the lower right corner of the “Paragraph” group. This will open the “Paragraph” dialog box. In the lower left corner of the “Paragraph” dialog box is the “Tabs…” button. Click this button to open the “Tabs” dialog box. You can use this dialog box to set any and all attributes of the tabs for the currently selected section or line in your document.
Any tabs that you have added to the current section will be shown in the list below the “Tab stop position:” text box. You can click on the tab stop (noted by its position on the horizontal ruler) that you want to edit from this list in order to change the attributes of the selected tab. In the “Alignment” section, you can select one of the available option buttons to change the tabs type, if necessary. Below that, in the “Leader” section, you can add a decorative “leader” to the selected tab. These special types of tabs are used for creating a dashed or dotted line when you press the “Tab” key on your keyboard to move to the selected tab. These are the tabs that are used when you want to create an index or table of contents.
You can also remove all tabs from the current selection by clicking the “Clear All” button in the “Tabs” dialog box. That will clear all of the tab stops from the list shown in this dialog box.
Also, if you have yet to create any tabs in the current section of the document, you can create them in this dialog box. You start by typing the desired tab’s position on the horizontal ruler (in inches) into the “Tab Stop Position” text box. Then select the desired alignment for the tab from the options shown in the “Alignment” section. If desired, next pick the desired leader for the tab from the options shown in the “Leader” section. Once you have set the options for the tab that you have either created or modified, click the “Set” button to set the tab and add it to the list of tabs shown in this dialog box.
If you just want to delete a single tab shown in the tab list in this dialog box, you must first select the tab that you want to clear from the list. Then click the “Clear” button to remove it.Once you have the tabs set as you would like, click the “OK” button to set your changes.