Using Indents and Tabs

In Google Docs indents are useful to draw attention to certain elements. In Google Docs tabs are helpful for text placement.

Using tab stops

Using tab stops gives you more control over the placement of text. By default, each time you press the Tab key on the keyboard the insertion point will move a half-inch to the right. By adding tab stops to the Ruler, you can change the size of the tabs, and you can apply more than one tab stop to a single line. For example, on a resume you can left-align important dates by adding a left tab stop.

Using two types of alignment on the same line

There are three types of tab stops in Google Docs.

Pressing the Tab key can either add a tab or create a first-line indent, depending on the location of the insertion point. Generally, if the insertion point is at the beginning of an existing paragraph it will create a first-line indent; otherwise, it will create a tab.

To add tab stops:

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs where you want to add tab stops. If you don't select any paragraphs, the tab stops will apply to the current paragraph and any new paragraphs you type below it.
    Selecting text to add a tab-stop
  2. Click the location on the Ruler where you want your text to appear. A drop-down menu of tab stop selections will appear.
    Clicking the ruler
  3. Select the desired tab stop. You can add as many tab stops as you want.
    Selecting a tab-stop
  4. Place the insertion point at the location where you want to add the tab.
    Placing the insertion point
  5. Press the Tab key on the keyboard. The text will jump to the location of the next tab stop.
    Applying the tab stop

To remove the tab stop, click and drag it off of the Ruler.


  1. Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click File > Make a copy.
  2. Scroll to page 2, then select the paragraph underneath the word Summary.
  3. Press the Tab key to indent the entire paragraph.
  4. When you're finished, the paragraph should look something like this:
    Summary Paragraph Example
  5. Scroll to page 3 and select the text in the Education section.
  6. Drag the left indent marker somewhere past the 0.5" (1.25 cm) mark.
  7. Select the text in the Skills section and format as a bulleted list.
  8. With the list still selected, drag the left indent marker to the 1" (2.5 cm) mark.
  9. When you're finished, page 3 should look something like this:
    Indent Challenge Page 3