Tip: Indenting paragraphs in Word

When typing letters and documents, we distinguish paragraphs in one of two ways: We use a tab character to indent the first line of each paragraph or we insert a blank line between paragraphs. If you're a tabber, you probably forget to hit Tab occasionally. It's not a big deal, but it can be annoying, especially if you're not in the habit. Also, if you combine two paragraphs, you have to delete the tab. Again, not a big deal, but you can avoid the whole mess with a simple format.

To set this paragraph format choose Paragraph from the Format menu. In the Indentation section, choose First Line from the Special options dropdown list. Word will automatically set a half-inch indent, which is the equivalent of a default tab. Adjust the amount if you want. Then, click OK.

The good news is that Word will set this paragraph format for you automatically. Simply indent the first paragraph. You don't have to do a thing. This feature is enabled by default. If it's not working for you, check the following option:

  1. From the Tools menu, choose AutoCorrect Options.
  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  3. In the Automatically As You Type section, check the Set Left- and First-indent With Tabs and Backspaces.
  4. Click OK.

Follow the same steps if you want to disable the feature—just uncheck it.

About Susan Harkins

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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