A tab stop is the location where the cursor stops after the Tab key is pressed. Tab stops are used in word processors to allow users to align text. Below is a picture of the ruler in Microsoft Word; each left tab stop is denoted by a bold "L" symbol. If these were right tab stops, the "L" would be backward. In Microsoft Word, the tab selector, also called the tab indicator, is a button to the left of the ruler that provides tab marker options.
Types of tab stops
In Microsoft Word, there are five different tab stop options. To select one of them, click the button shown in the picture below until you get to the one you require.
Below are explanations for each type of tab stop.
- 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.
- First Line Indent - Indents the first line of a paragraph.
- Hanging Indent - Indents all lines of the paragraph, except the first line.
How to create a tab stop
In Microsoft Word, you can also use the Ribbon to create a tab stop.
- Click the Home tab, if not already selected.
- At the bottom-right of the Paragraph section, click the arrow pointing down and to the right.
- In the Paragraph window that opens, click the Tabs button in the lower-left corner.
- The Tabs settings window opens. The default tab stop is 0.5". If desired, increase or decrease the default tab stop. You can also add or adjust additional tab stops by entering or changing tab stop values in the Tab stop position text field and list.
How to remove a tab stop
If you want to remove a tab stop from the ruler, position the mouse cursor over the tab stop. Press and hold the left mouse button on the tab stop, then drag the mouse down. When the tab stop symbol changes to a light grey color, release the mouse button, removing the tab stop. If there are multiple tab stops in the ruler, repeat this process to remove each one.