Accessing the Ruler

Accessing the Ruler

When formatting documents in Microsoft Word, many users will press the space bar, or tab key, repeatedly, until the text is in the location they want. However, formatting your text manually can cause lots of formatting issues and alignment problems. Not to mention that formatting a Word Document this wan can take up a tremendous amount of time.

Instead, save yourself the time and the trouble by formatting your Word Document using Tab Stops.

A Tab Stop is a way to align your text properly by only having to press tab once. When you set a Tab Stop, you are telling the computer that this is the location that you want the cursor to stop when you press the tab key. It eliminates the need to repeatedly press tab to line up your text, saving your fingers and your sanity.

*Note these tips apply to Word 2007 and 2010. If you are using a different version of Word, these tips still apply, but will need to be accessed differently, depending on the version you are using.*

Turn On Your Ruler

Before you can begin using Tab Stops, you must first turn on your Ruler. To do this, go to View in the Ribbon at the top, and then click the Ruler check box. You should now have two rulers, one on the top, and the other to the left of your document.

Tab Stops Are Your Friend

Once the Ruler is activated, you can begin adding your Tab Stops. To do this, click on the Ruler, in the location where you would like your Tab Stop to appear. So, if you want your text aligned at the three inch mark, click on the 3 on the Ruler, and a little black L will appear. That L is a Tab Stop.

There are several different types of Tab Stops. If the L is pointed to the right (just like a typical upper case L) then your text will extend to the right of the tab. If you would like a different kind of Tab Stop, double click on the Tab Stop and the Tabs dialog box will appear. From here, you can set the type of Tab Stop that you want, along with the exact location which allows for more control over your

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The types of Tab Stops available are:

  • Left: Text is extended to the right of the tab.
  • Center: Text is centered in the middle of the tab
  • Right: Text is extended to the left of the tab.
  • Decimal: Any text before the decimal point extends to the left, and text after the decimal point extens on the right.
  • Bar: A vertical bar is entered into your document.

To remove a Tab Stop, double click on the Tab Stop, then click on Clear All in the Tab dialog box, and then click OK. Or, simply drag the Tab Stop down from the Ruler, and it will disappear.

Despite being so simple to use, Tab Stops can give you greater flexibility and control when it comes to formatting your documents.

What’s your favorite Microsoft Word trick? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you use your favorite software more effectively. Email: [email protected].

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