Set tabs in a Word document

Add tab stops

Add tab stops

Add a hanging indent

Add a hanging indent

Add dot leaders

Add dot leaders

Looking for something else

Looking for something else?

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.

Tab Stop hero art

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

    View the ruler

  2. Click the ruler at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

    Ruler markers in aWord document

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

Note: To adjust the position of a tab, drag it right or left along the ruler.

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Add a hanging indent

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

Hanging indent hero art

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

    View the ruler

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

  3. Drag the lower triangle to the 0.5" mark on the ruler. Make sure you click on the upper part of the lower marker, toward the tip of the triangle.

    The hanging indent marker in Word

For more precise control when creating a hanging indent, along with other indent and spacing options, see Adjust indents and spacing.

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Add dot leaders

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

Dot leader hero art

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

    View the ruler

  2. Click the lower edge of the ruler at 5 to set the tab.

  3. Click Page Layout.

  4. Click the small arrow in the lower-right corner of the Paragraph section to open a window with more options.

    The Page Layout Paragraph section in Word

  5. Click the Tabs... button.

  6. Under Leader, select 2 (the dotted lines option), click Set and then click OK.

    The Leader section in Word's Tab dialog box

Now you can add entries and when you press TAB, a dotted line will appear across the page, to the 5" 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 3-5 and under Leader, choose 1 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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Looking for something else?

If you want more precision than you can get with the ruler, or if you want to insert a specific character (leader) before the tab, use the Tabs dialog box.

  1. Click Page Layout, and then click the small arrow in the lower-right corner of the Paragraph section to open a window with more options.

    The Page Layout Paragraph section in Word

  2. Click Tabs, and then, under Tab stop position, type the location where you want to set the tab stop.

    The Tab Stop dialog box in Word

  3. Set the default tab stops and choose an alignment.

  4. To add dots with your tab stop, or to add another type of leader, click the option that you want under Leader, and then click Set.

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