Don't use Tab to indent paragraphs in a Word document

Using Tab to indent the first line of a paragraph in a Word document is inefficient and unnecessary. By setting a simple option, you can skip Tab and go right to typing text.

Most of the time, I press Tab to indent the first line of a new paragraph. It's easy and I seldom write anything that requires more than just a few paragraphs. However, using Tab does introduce the potential for trouble. For example, if you combine two paragraphs, you have to delete the Tab at the beginning of the second paragraph. It's not a big deal in a short document, but those tabs can add up if you do some serious restructuring.

The truth is, Tab just isn't necessary. Instead, use Word's indent feature as follows:

  1. From the Format menu, choose Paragraph.
  2. Click the Indents And Spacing tab.
  3. In the Indention section, select First Line from the Special control's drop-down list.
  4. Specify the size of the indention using the By control's drop-down list. Then, click OK to return to your document.

january20009blog4fig1.jpgWhen you press Enter, Word assumes you're starting a new paragraph and automatically indents the first line. You don't have to press a thing. If you need to remove an indent for a single paragraph, just move the First Line Indent marker on the ruler for that paragraph.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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