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One of the most essential yet most overlooked skills in word processing is the use of tabs. We'll use this menu to explore the benefits of using tabs in Pages '09. On typewriters, tabs stops were what you use to line up text in columns or in tables. The tabs are still points along the horizontal ruler that you will setup so each time you press the Tab key on the keyboard, the cursor will jump ahead and stop at that point. A lot of people like to use the spacebar to use the separate items on a page into columns, but that can cause problems.
Take a look at our Entrees section. Here we have items on the left, the Spacebar was used to create space between the item and the price that was typed in on the right and you can see these prices don't really lineup properly. Now if we were to come in here and add or remove any of this content, things would really get messed up. Using Tab Stops eliminates the problems you might encounter using the Spacebar. Here's how, let's move down to the Desserts & Drinks section. Here we have some content, we have some prices, but the spaces were not inserted. Click once to select the text box, click again to move your insertion point inside the text box and now let's select all of the content. We'll drag from Soy all the way to the end of the $10 after Chocolate Cheesecake.
So everything is selected and any changes we make using Tab stop will be applied to all of our text. We do that using the Inspector. Click the Inspector button and we'll move to our Text Inspector and select Tabs. Now down below you are going to see some Tab setting information, such as the Default Tabs are every half-an-inch. We won't see those on the horizontal ruler, but every time you press your Tab key on the keyboard, you will move a half inch to the right each time. What we want to do is setup specific Tab Stops. So we move down to the bottom here where it says Tab Stops. Currently, there are no Tab Stops setup, but we can change that. Click the plus sign to add your first Tab Stop. The default value appears to be 0.5 inches. We'll change that by double-clicking; we want it to be about 6.5 inch mark on our ruler. So we'll type over what's there 6.5, press Return on the keyboard to lock that in.
Notice on the ruler at the top of your screen you now have a Tab Stop. The arrow in the direction it's pointing means something. Notice Alignment is setup by default to Left Align that means when we press our Tab key momentarily, we'll move to the 6.5 inch mark and as we type everything will stay aligned up on the left. But we can change that to Center, Right, or Decimal. First, let's move inside our text and use our Tab key. Click in front of the dollar sign before the $5 after Soy Beverage and press your Tab key. Notice that as we hit the Tab key everything moves over to the 6.5 inch mark, this is 6.5 inches after your Left margin, which happens to be passed the seven inch mark on the ruler. We'll do the same for the other prices, and you will notice that they all line up on the left-hand side.
If we wanted to change alignment, all we do is select all of our text again and we'll choose a different alignment option, such as Center. Now each of these are centered on the 6.5 inch mark we setup a moment ago. Notice the symbol has also changed on the ruler. Right Align might work best for dollar amounts and if we had decimals we could even use the Decimal Alignment, binding our content on the decimal used. We don't have any, so Right Aligned is good. Now down below to help us read the content and line up our prices with our entries, we might want to use something called the Leader. Currently, the default is set to none, but click the button to see the options like dashes, dots and a solid line. Let's use dot Leaders to see that effect. Now that looks great. We'll click outside the text box to deselect everything to really get a good feel for the end result.
Now what's really cool is if we add any content or remove content, things will stay lined up, for example, where it says Special Coffee or Tea. Let's click inside the text box, click again after the word Coffee. We'll add a comma, type Tea, comma and then let's move over and add Green before the last Tea. Notice the dots disappear to make room for our new text and our prices stay lined up on the right-hand side. Click outside the text box again to deselect.
Now changing Tab Stops is quite easy as well. Let's move up to the top where our Salads & Starters appear to be lined up perfectly on the right-hand side. If we click once to select the text box and click again to move our insertion point inside the text box, you will notice there is a Right Aligned tab showing up on our ruler. We want to change that, so let's select all of our text, so everything is effected. Notice the Tab Stop is set at the 7 inch mark, 7 inches away from our left margin, to change it just double-click.
It's already selected, we type over it, 6.5, we want it to be Right Aligned, like the one down below. So press Return and you will see the end result. Everything lines up perfectly, just as it does down below with our Desserts & Drinks. All we need to do is add the dot Leaders, deselect our checkbox to see the end result. So if you ever need to line up items on to page, avoid using spaces and periods and choose the right type of Tab Stop, you would be glad the moment you need to add, remove, or even format any of those items.
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