Indents and Tabs

In Word 2013 indents and tabs add structure to documents. Use the MS Word indent ruler and tabs to help make documents clearer.


Using tabs gives you more control over the placement of text. By default, every time you press the Tab key, the insertion point will move 1/2 inch to the right. Adding tab stops to the Ruler allows you to change the size of the tabs, and Word even allows you to apply more than one tab stop to a single line. For example, on a resume you could left align the beginning of a line and right align the end of the line by adding a Right Tab.

Screenshot of Word 2013Using two types of alignment on the same line

Pressing the Tab key can either add a tab or create a first-line indent, depending on where the insertion point is. 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.

The tab selector

The tab selector is located above the vertical ruler on the left. Hover the mouse over the tab selector to see the name of the active tab stop.

Screenshot of Word 2013The tab selector

Types of tab stops include:

Although Bar Tab, First Line Indent, and Hanging Indent appear on the tab selector, they're not technically tabs.

To add tab stops:

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs you want to add tab stops to. If you don't select any paragraphs, the tab stops will apply to the current paragraph and any new paragraphs you type below it.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting text to tab
  2. Click the tab selector until the tab stop you want to use appears. In our example, we'll select Decimal Tab.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting a tab stop
  3. Click the location on the horizontal ruler where you want your text to appear (it helps to click on the bottom edge of the ruler). You can add as many tab stops as you want.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Adding a tab stop to the Ruler
  4. Place the insertion point in front of the text you want to tab, then press the Tab key. The text will jump to the next tab stop.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Moving text to the Tab stop

Removing tab stops

It's a good idea to remove any tab stops you aren't using so they don't get in the way. To remove a tab stop, click and drag it off of the Ruler.

Screenshot of Word 2013Removing a tab stop

Word can display hidden formatting symbols such as the spacebar (), paragraph (), and Tab key () markings to help you see the formatting in your document. To show hidden formatting symbols, select the Home tab, then click the Show/Hide command.

Screenshot of Word 2013Displaying hidden formatting symbols