Lesson 1: Tabs

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As with all the lessons in this course, you must go through every step in the procedures using Word to learn the skill so it is available to you from memory when you need to use it.

Use the Tab key on your keyboard to set indentations at specific points. Use tab stops to align portions of text. Configure the tab to align text to the left of the tab stop position, to align text to the right of the tab, to center text at the tab, to align the decimal point at the tab, or to add a solid vertical line or bar at the tab stop in front of the aligned text.

In addition, you can create a leader in the form of a dotted line, a dashed line, or a solid line that extends from the text at the previous tab stop to the text aligned at a tab stop.

If you have no tab stops in a paragraph, Word creates default tab stops every half inch across the width of the text area. The tab stops configured in a paragraph apply to all the lines in the paragraph.

Set tabs by clicking on the ruler to indicate where you want to place them. Turn on the ruler by clicking on View on the Ribbon and selecting Ruler in the Show area of the View ribbon.

To the far left of the ruler, you will see a symbol that looks like an angle bracket, called  the “tab selector.” That designates the type of tab.

There are five tabs you can use: left, center, right, decimal, and bar. To pick the type, click the tab selector. You will see the icon change to symbols for the five types of tabs. You will also see symbols for the margins.

The text below uses a left tab. All the text is aligned on the left. You will see the tab mark that has the vertical bar where the text will line up. The horizontal line representing the text is to the right, showing that the text will line up to the right of the tab.

The text below has a right tab. All the texts is aligned on the right. In the tab icon, the horizontal bar is to the left of the vertical bar, showing that the text will line up at the tab and extend to the left.

The text below has a center tab. The text is centered at the tab point.

A decimal tab allows you to create columns of numbers and easily line them up by decimal point.

A vertical bar tab doesn’t act like a tab. It allows you to put a vertical line between text. It looks the same as if you typed |. However, the advantage is that you can grab the “bar tab” in the ruler and move the tab to move the vertical bar.

Setting Tabs Using the Tabs Dialog Box

You can use the Tabs dialog box to set tab stops. Before opening the Tabs dialog box, place your cursor anywhere within a single paragraph for which you want to set tab stops, or select more than one paragraph for which you want to create tab stops. Then open the Tabs dialog box as follows.

  • First open the Paragraph dialog box by clicking on the down arrow at the right end of the Paragraph area on the Ribbon.
  • Then in the Paragraph dialog box click Tabs. You will see this dialog box.

If you want to modify the tab stops that appear in the Tabs dialog box for the single paragraph or multiple paragraphs you selected, perform the following steps.

  1. If one or more tab stops are listed under Tab stop position, click Clear All to delete all of them, or select each tab stop you want to delete and click Clear.
  2. To set a new tab stop, enter its position in the Tab stop position box. Under Alignment, select the type of alignment you want. Under Leader, select None or the type of leader you want. Then click Set. The position of the new tab stop will appear under Tab stop position.
  3. If you want to set more than one tab stop, repeat the previous step for each tab stop.
  4. If you want to use the evenly spaced default tab stops Microsoft creates by default if there are no tabs, after you have cleared any tab stops that may have been listed under Tab stop position, adjust the distance that appears in Default tab stops to the the default spacing you want. You won’t see the symbol for a tab if you have no tabs set. When you press the Tab key, the tab will go to the next default tab location.
  5. Click OK.

You may also set a leader using the Tabs dialog box. The leader you choose will appear from the point at which the mouse cursor is resting before you use the tab to the place you have the tab set.

Setting Tabs Using the Ruler

Setting tabs using the ruler is an easy two-step process. Click the tab selector button on the left of the ruler to choose the type of alignment.

Then click the position on the ruler to set the tab. You’ll see a vertical dotted line, allowing your more precise control over where the tabs are positioned.

Click on the icon on the left end of the ruler to change the type of tab. These are the four types of tabs you will most often use.

Download the Word file at this link and perform the functions indicated in the document: Download

When you have completed the tasks, send the Word file to assignments@businesswriting.com. Write a complete email with a salutation, reason for the email, reference to the attachment, and your name and contact information. Put “Lesson 1 – Tabs exercise” in the subject line.

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