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Trade tabs for tables in Word

Working with tabs in Word can be a challenge. A simple solution to this potentially tricky problem is to use nested tables without having to set the tabs. Mary Ann Richardson shows you how.

Tabs are tricky when it comes to inserting them within table cells in a Word document. First, you must set the tab for the cell, and then to tab, you must press [Ctrl][Tab]; pressing [Tab] will only move your cursor to the next cell. Rather than remember all that, why not use tables instead?

For example, to type your resume without tabs, set up a two-column table that lists the main headings such as Experience and Education in the first column, and the items that pertain to those headings in the second column. With a table, you can tab to the cell and the text will automatically align to the cell gridlines, which are invisible when printed.

But what if the items require tabs within the cells? For example, for Education, in the second column you need to type the year graduated, then tab to the name of the college, then on the next line, tab twice to enter the degree. To avoid having to set tabs here, insert a nested table. Follow these steps:

  1. Type Experience in the first column cell and then press [Tab].
  2. Click and hold the Insert Table tool in the Standard toolbar and drag to select a 2x2 table.
  3. Type the year in the first cell of the nested table; press [Tab] and type the name of the school; press [Enter] and type the degree or diploma earned.
  4. Press [Tab], type the year, press [Tab] and type the name of the next school; press [Enter] and type the degree or diploma earned.

You have now typed the resume without having to set tabs within a cell.

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1 comments
Van Swearingen
Van Swearingen

Not sure whatever gave you the impression that "tabs are tricky" in Word tables. They're not nearly as tricky as managing nested tables, particularly when there are multiple editors of a document and/or if something goes awry with the nested tables. A. Tabs are a paragraph format. B. Ctrl Tab to insert. Ta da. Easy like pie, which is more than I can say for trying to troubleshoot problems with the implementation of nested tables in Word.