Set tabs in a Word document

There are several ways you can set tabs in a Word document:

Add tab stops

Add a hanging indent

Add dot leaders

Add tab stops

A quick way to set tab stops in your document is to click the ruler where you want the tabs to appear.

Example of using tabs to create columns

  1. If you don't see the ruler at the top of your document, click View > Ruler to display it.

    The Ruler option is highlighted on the View tab.

  2. Click the ruler where you want a tab stop. For example, click 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. A small L-shaped symbol will mark each tab stop.

    The ruler in a Word document is shown with tabs.

  3. To move a tab, drag it along the ruler.

Now, when you press the TAB key, your text will line up with the tabs you've set.

Add a hanging indent

With a hanging indent, the second and all the following lines of a paragraph are indented more than the first.

Example of a hanging paragraph

  1. If you don't see the ruler at the top of your document, click View > Ruler to display it.

    The Ruler option is highlighted on the View tab.

  2. Select the text where you want to add a hanging indent.

  3. On the ruler, drag the upper triangular part of the lower marker to the place where you want the indentation to start, such as the 1" mark.

    Select the top part of the arrow and drag it to the indentation you want

Add dot leaders

The space between tabs can show dots, dashes, or other "leader" characters to line up information.

Example of using a dot leader

  1. If you don't see the ruler at the top of your document, click View > Ruler to display it.

    The Ruler option is highlighted on the View tab.

  2. Click the lower edge of the ruler where you want to set the tab.

  3. Click Layout, and then click the Dialog Box Launcher arrow in the Paragraph group.

    The arrow to open the Paragraph dialog box is highlighted on the Layout tab.

  4. In the Paragraph box, click Tabs in the bottom left corner.

    Paragraph dialog box with the Tabs button highlighted.

  5. In the Tabs box, under Alignment, select Right.

    The options in the Tabs dialog box are shown.

  6. Under Leader, select the dotted lines option. Click OK when finished.

Now you can add entries and when you press TAB, a dotted line will appear across the page, to the 6" mark. The formatting will be added to each new line until you change the leader. To change the formatting so no leader appears, follow steps 3-6 and under Leader, choose none.

Note: If you're creating a table of contents, you can follow the steps for adding a table of contents.

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