Join Alicia Katz Pollock for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting tabs using the ruler, part of Word 2010 Power Shortcuts.
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Now you may have learned to set your tabs by going into the Paragraph dialog box and then going down to the Tabs button at the bottom. But it's much faster to set your tabs using the ruler at the top of your document. If you don't see your ruler, look over on the right above your scrollbar and there's a little View Ruler button and I click on it and it'll toggle your ruler on and off. Now when you look at the ruler, you see slightly larger marks at the half inch and the inch marks. Now when you press Tab on your keyboard, your cursor or your content will jump along these half inch increments.
I'm going to press Ctrl+Z to undo this. Now you can also set custom tabs to your own specifications, which allows you to line up the content without using columns or tables. For example, if you want text aligned in both the left and the right at the same time, tabs are the only way to make that happen. Let's scroll down to Page 3 and here I have what could be a little table of text, but I don't really want to use a table. I want Years-of-employment lined up on the left, I want Vacation-time-earned lined up in the middle, and the Can-be-used section to be lined up right-justified.
So the first step is always to select the text that you want to align using tabs. I'll click to the left and drag down. Try not to get the paragraph marks before and after. Now if you skip this step, your tabs will only be applied to the one row with your cursor and you'll have to set them all over again. So again, I'll start by highlighting my four rows of content. Now on the far left and above the vertical ruler, you see what looks like an L, but it's really not. It's a left tab stop and clicking on this box repeatedly toggles through all the different kinds of tab stops.
The tab stop is actually the vertical line and the lower line is telling you that the text is going to go this way. So when I click on it again, this is a centered tab stop. It's going to be centered in the middle and the text is going to go to both sides. I'll click on it again and now I have a right tab stop of the vertical line, and then the text is going to go to the left. When I click on it again, I now have the decimal tab. What this is going to do is if you have a series of numbers, you can line them up on the decimal point. So it doesn't matter if you have 100. 1 or 1000.01; the numbers will always line up on the decimal.
When I click it again I get a bar tab. Never mind the jokes, I'll show you how this works in a minutes. And then the next one is a first-line indent which is what you already see on the ruler, and then your hanging indent, also already on the ruler. Our left column is just fine where it is, but I want to insert a center tab for this section right here. I'll toggle this button until I get the upside down T and I think this would look good somewhere around the 2.5 inch mark.
So I'll click on the ruler and any text that has a tab before it will jump to that location. So this text right here is centered. Now if you're working on your own document, you have to actually type in these tabs for this to work. Now notice that before we had default tabs of every half inch, but as soon as I add my own tab to the ruler, all of those go away, and so hitting Tab will just jump straight to the 2.5 inch mark. Let's line up our text on the right-hand side. So I'll go back over to our tab box and click it one more time to get a right tab, and I'll come over and click on the 4.5 inch mark.
That was too close. If you have a tab that's not in the right location, you can put your cursor very carefully over it. Make sure it's the very tip of your arrow and click-and-hold. You'll know you got it right when you get a vertical line going down your screen and I'll pick this up and drag it over to the 5.5 inch mark. Now that looks good, but it looks like this center area could stand to move over, so I'll go ahead again, point very carefully at the tab and drag it over a bit. There, that's better. This is a bit opportunity to usr the bar tab, so I'll click two more times on the tab toggle and get the bar tab.
I want to put a vertical line right in the middle here so that looks like about the 1.5 inch mark. So I'll go ahead and click on it and the bar tab gives me a vertical line, and I'll go ahead and do the same thing right at about three and three quarters. Now that looks a little funny when I have my paragraph marks on, but as soon as I turn them off, that looks great. I'll turn them back on again. Let's talk about tab leaders. Tab leaders are the dot, dot, dot, dot marks that you see in between, for example, content and page numbers in a table of contents or phone list.
You should never type these yourself using periods or underlines. The leaders themselves adjust automatically with the length of your content. So let's put leaders between our sections here. I still have all my content highlighted. And then I can double-click on any one of the tabs and the dialog box that we saw earlier opens up. This is showing me that I have a Bar Tab at the 1.5 inch mark, a Center Tab at the 2.75 inch mark, and that's one that I want to add a leader on.
So I'll come down here to the Leaders and I'll click on Leader number 2 with the dot, dot, dot and I'll click Set. And then I'll do the same thing to my tab at the 5.5 inch mark. So I'll click on it here, click on the dot, dot, dot and then Set and then I'll click OK. Turn off my paragraph marks. So now I have these wonderful dot, dot, dot leaders, but it doesn't look great with the Bar Tab. If I want to get rid of a tab, all I have to do is point to it very carefully on the Ribbon and pull straight down and let go and it disappears.
So now when I click off, my content is nicely aligned, I have dot leaders that will adjust as my content changes, and I did it all without a table. Making proper use of tabs will allow you to line up your content in ways you never could before. Using the ruler to set your tab stops saves you time from entering them manually in the Tabs dialog box.
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