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Using Tabs to Properly Align Text and Numbers in Microsoft Word

If you are working in Microsoft Word, chances are you will need to format your document.  Anytime that you are not simply using the left margin to align paragraphs, you should use tabs to properly align your text and numbers.
The default tab stops are every 0.5 inches from the left margin. You can easily customize this by simply clicking on the ruler at the top of your page in Microsoft Word. Wherever you click, you will see a tab symbol as show in the image below. If you’d like the tab to right align text, double-click your new tab symbol. In the menu under Alignment, select Right.

Every now and then you might get a Word document from someone who uses multiple spaces instead of tabs to space out items or begin paragraphs. It’s also pretty common with information downloaded from the Web — when it’s converted from HTML to text format, a whole bunch of spaces appear. Suddenly your lovely Web chart looks like a mess in Word.
First, how can you tell if the document uses spaces instead of tabs?

1.    Click on the paragraph symbol in the Paragraph tools.

2.    You will see dots for spaces and right arrows for tabs.

Next, how do you clean it up?

Easy! Just perform the following steps:

1. Press Ctrl+H to pull up the Find and Replace box.

2. Click on the More button and check the Use Wildcards box.

3. In the Find field, enter a single space followed by a left brace, the number 2, a comma, and the right brace.

4. In the Replace field, type ^t. The Find and Replace box should now look like this:

5. Click on Replace All.

You’re done! Now all your multiple spaces will be replaced with tabs, and you can adjust the tabs as needed.

Do you have any other tips or topics you’d like us to cover?  Post a comment below and we’ll add a blog post about that topic!


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