Software

Set [Tab] to correctly indent your paragraph in Word

Sometimes the [Tab] key in Word works a little too efficiently, indenting sections and paragraphs you don't want moved. Mary Ann Richardson guides you through the pitfalls -- and benefits -- of [Tab].

After typing a paragraph in your Word document, you want to indent the first line one inch from the margin, so you press [Tab] and click at the start of the first line. The first line indents to the first default tab setting -- one half inch from the left margin. You need to indent the paragraph one full inch from the margin, so you press [Tab] again. Word indents the first line one inch and indents the entire paragraph one half inch from the margin. How can you prevent Word from moving the entire paragraph?

If you have Word 2003 or Word 2007, a Smart Tag will appear after you press [Tab] the second time, allowing you to turn off the AutoCorrect option that prevents [Tab] from working as expected. Just click the Smart Tag's drop-down arrow and select Undo Left Indent. Alternately, if you want to suspend the feature altogether, select Stop Setting Indent On Tabs And Backspace; once selected, pressing [Tab] at the beginning of the first line will indent the first line only.

With Word 2002 (or if Smart Tags have been turned off), you will need to go into the AutoCorrect dialog box and clear the Set Left- And First Indent With Tabs And Backspaces check box under the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

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11 comments
gmdp
gmdp

I'M SORRY I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND A THING TO DO WITH THAT.

grahamrice
grahamrice

Why not simply drag the "first line indent" handle to the required position? This has the advantages of :- 1) Allowing indenting to any position (not restricted multiples of the TAB setting). 2) No need to position the "insertion point" at the start of the first line. Just ANYWHERE in the paragraph. This works in Word 2000, I assume also other versions.

mw00110011
mw00110011

Novice users usually use whatever the default tab setting is, with 1, 2, or 3 tabs, AND blocks of spaces to position EVERY paragraph, then complain when the first indented line of a 14pt Arial paragraph doesn't line up perfectly at 1.25 inches with the one at 9pt in another font. If the first paragraph is formatted (using Format > Paragraph... > Indentation > Special) to a first-line indent of 1.25 inches, then all paragraphs generated after that will automatically be at the same setting if you just hit ENTER to start a new one based on the formatted one. For paragraphs that are already in place, just select them as a group and apply the paragraph formatting.

Jim.Thomas
Jim.Thomas

You could just set your tab to 1" by clicking on the ruler bar. Or Format>Paragraph and set Special to First Line and At to 1.0.

bevg
bevg

...I figured out how to find the "first line indent handle." But it does generate a couple of thoughts. (1) Visual illustrations would help on some tips like this one--but when a user posts there is only an option to submit text. I made an image for my own notes and for any future training I may do. Here's what I mean: http://fotos1951.googlepages.com/home (2) I consider myself a power user and thought I knew a lot about Word, but that one had somehow slipped by me. Makes me wonder how many other cool tips are "out there" that I may have missed. My excuse on this one is that I came from a background of typesetting where I set my I set my body text style and never bothered with manual indentions.

clgittins
clgittins

One problem with moving that little triangle [and generally with clicking on the ruler] is that not all positions are available: the marker moves to a position the program will accept. For example, when I try to set a small indent, it comes out at 0.27 centimeters--it is impossible manually to set it 0.2 or 0.3 cm.

rcstan
rcstan

After pressing Tab the first time, hold the Ctrl key down when pressing Tab the second time. This gives the first line a 1" indent while the body of the paragraph remains left-aligned.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Access' form grides have a snap to feature that you can disable for more accurate positioning. I thought maybe the Word ruler might have a similar option, but I didn't find anything.

gmdp
gmdp

I think I also need 2 remember how 2 set the paragraph . I was setting stationary in my e-mail, and the paragraph kept returning all the way back 2 the left, and had 2 try to be seen thru the cactus', not possible. I need refreasher courses. I was very ill 2 years ago, and am not even near back to normal mentally. Thanks Again. Gina.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I don't see the advantage of holding down Ctrl for the second Tab - two tabs does the same thing. What am I missing?

rcstan
rcstan

Holding the Alt key down while adjusting any Ruler tab function provides vernier control of placement while numerically displaying the precise location of the tab.

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