You can create a tab stop in Microsoft Word to control the positioning of text in your document. A tab stop, rather than the Tab key, which advances the cursor a half inch to the right with each button press, takes the cursor to a spot you define. Learning to use Microsoft Word tabs is useful for aligning selected text to the right or centering text around a spot you choose. The basic process is the same across all versions of Word.
Tab Stop Basics
You adjust the position of tab stops in Microsoft Word using the ruler section at the top of the page. The ruler section is the series of vertical lines and numbers running across the top. The tab stop icon at the top left of the window displays the symbol for a left tab by default. When you select "Tab" to go to the tab stop, the text is left-aligned; when you type, the text is positioned to the right of the marker. You can left-click anywhere on the white section of the ruler to add a tab stop.
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When you click the tab stop icon at the top left of a document, it cycles through the available tab stop options. They are the left tab, center tab for text centered around the tab stop, right tab for text that's right aligned and extends to the left, decimal tab that aligns the position of a decimal point, and the bar tab, which inserts a vertical bar at the position of the tab marker.
Inserting a Right Tab
You have two options to align selected text along the right edge using a tab stop. Click the tab stop icon at the top left of the window just below the ribbon and select the right tab from the menu that appears. Then, click the ruler where you want the right-align tab to be placed. If you can't see the ruler, go to the "View" tab at the top of the screen and click the check box beside "Ruler" in the "Show/Hide" group.
As an alternative, you can add a right tab using a dialogue box. In the "Home" tab, click the "Expand" symbol to the right of "Paragraph." In the "Paragraph" dialogue box, click "Tabs" to go to the relevant dialogue box. Enter a value into the "Tab Stop Position" field using the numbers on the ruler as a guide and choose "Right" from the "Alignment" section. You can lead into the tab position with a series of dots or dashes using the next section if you like, but if you only want to align the text, leave this set to "None." Click "OK" when you're done.
Press "Tab" to move to the tab stop. Type any text you want, and it extends to the left and is aligned with the tab stop to the right.
Indent a Paragraph on Word
Use a related but slightly different tool in Word to indent a paragraph. Look at the ruler and note the hourglass-like shape on the left side. When you want to indent the first line of a paragraph, click and drag the top half of this shape to the chosen starting position. Alternatively, if you want to indent all subsequent lines of a paragraph but not necessarily the first, click and drag the lower half of the shape to a chosen indent position. The symbol on the right can be used to adjust the right indent position.