Tab stop

Updated: 10/04/2017 by Computer Hope

A tab stop is a term used to describe the location the cursor stops after the Tab key is pressed. Tab stops are used in word processors to enable users to align text by pressing the Tab key. Below is a picture of the ruler bar in Microsoft Office with each of the left tab stops marked as bold L's. If these were right tabs, the L would be backwards. In Microsoft Word, the tab selector, also called the tab indicator, is a button to the left of the ruler that supplies the user with a variety of tab marker options.

Tab stop

Types of tab stops

Below are explanations of each of the five different tab stops.

  • 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 - Text before the decimal point extends to the left and text after the decimal point extends to the right.
  • Bar - A vertical bar is shown on the tab.

How to create a tab stop

The easiest method to create a tab stop is to double-click on the ruler in the word processor to display the tabs window, similar to the example picture below. From the tabs window, you can specify the type of tab you want to create as well as its position.

Tab window

Align, Software terms, Tab, Word processor terms