tabs and tab stopsFor horizontal space in the center of a line

On type­writ­ers, the tab key moved the car­riage come a addressed hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion, marked with a tab stop. This al­lowed typ­ists come cre­ate columns of text or num­bers, also known as tab­u­lar lay­outs (hence the name tab).

You are watching: There are default tab stops every one inch on the horizontal ruler.

Tabs and also tab stops still job-related the very same way. A tab avoid marks a lo­ca­tion; typ­ing a tab move the cur­sor to the location.

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These days, the tab is provided only for in­sert­ing hor­i­zon­tal an are in the mid­dle the a line. If you need hor­i­zon­tal room at the be­gin­ning the a para­graph, ad­just the first-line in­dent. For a true tab­u­lar lay­out, usage a ta­ble, not tabs.

Word and also Pages execute not dis­play your de­fault tab stop on the leader (for no great rea­son). Be aware that including your own tab stops wipes the end the de­fault ones. So you will do it usu­ally want to collection tab stops be­fore in­sert­ing tabs in the text.

The tab is no as vi­tal together it as soon as was, but word proces­sors still short­change the ca­pa­bil­i­ties. A new word-pro­cess­ing doc­u­ment has de­fault tab stops every half inch. These de­fault tab stop ex­ist so the some­thing hap­pens when you type a tab in the new doc­u­ment. But this de­fault be­hav­ior also sug­gests the what the tab an essential does is move the cur­sor a half inch in ~ a time. Not true.

To get the many out the tabs, girlfriend should collection your very own tab stops. Avoid re­ly­ing ~ above the de­fault tab stops—they un­der­mine the objectives of con­trol and also pre­dictabil­ity. Just like word spaces, also avoid us­ing se­quences the tabs to relocate the cur­sor approximately the screen. 

To see your tab stops, dis­play the ruler.


How to display screen the ruler

WordView → show panel → Ruler

Mac OS WordView → Ruler

PagesView → display Ruler, or type ⌘ + r


With the leader vis­i­ble, girlfriend can modify your tab stops.


How to modify tab stops

To in­sert a brand-new tab stop, click in the ruler where you want the tab stop.

To move a tab stop, click and drag that in the ruler.

To adjust a tab avoid from one kind to an­other, dou­ble-click the in the ruler. In Pages, you can also right-click it.

To re­move a tab stop, drag it off the ruler.


Many lay­out work tra­di­tion­ally han­dled by tabs are now bet­ter han­dled by ta­bles. For in­stance, this il­lus­tra­tion that tab stops to be made v tabs, however it would’ve been eas­ier to usage a four-col­umn, four-row table.

The de­fault tab stop is a left tab stop, mean­ing text un­der the tab protect against aligns come its left edges. Indigenous proces­sors also of­fer cen­ter and also right tab stops, and dec­i­mal tab stops the align columns the num­bers at their dec­i­mal points (see grids the num­bers for why this matters).

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Use the ideal tab avoid for the job. For in­stance, don’t use a cen­ter tab stop to line up dec­i­mal num­bers. A appropriate tab can be use­ful in a doc­u­ment footer to put two piece of text (e.g., the doc­u­ment ti­tle and also the web page num­ber) at op­po­site end of the same line.

Tabs are used in bul­leted and also num­bered lists to sep­a­rate the bul­let or num­ber indigenous the text. Tabs are additionally used in au­to­mat­i­cally gen­er­ated ta­bles of con­tents and also ta­bles the au­thor­i­ties to put the web page num­bers in ~ the ideal edge that the table.

De­spite your names, au­to­matic ta­bles the con­tents and ta­bles the au­thor­i­ties room not made with true word-pro­ces­sor ta­bles. If you desire to edit them, you need to be com­fort­able ad­just­ing tab stops.

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Tabs and tab stops have their place, but in most situations they act as a less-ca­pa­ble al­ter­na­tive come a ta­ble. Usage tabs and also tab stops if your for­mat­ting task is important sim­ple. If not, up­grade come a table.