Hardware

Use Word's hidden ruler to reveal more page information

You know about Word's ruler, but do you know there's an alternate view that reveals more page information, increasing efficiency in the process?

You're probably familiar with Microsoft Word's rulers. The one along the top of the screen measures the width of the page and tags items that fall between the left and right margins.

Similarly, the one to the left, measures the length of the page. There's another view that tells you a bit more:
  • The distance between the edge of the paper and the margin.
  • The distance between the selected tab and the left and right margins.
Accessing this alternate view is easy:

  1. Using the left mouse button, click a margin or tab on the ruler, but don't release the mouse button.
  2. While holding down the left mouse button, press the right mouse button.

Using the above figure, the alternate view tells you the following:
  • The left and right margins are both 1.25".
  • There is 0.56" between the left margin and the selected tab.
  • There is 5.44" between the selected tab and the right margin.
Once you know this information is easily accessible, you'll probably find many uses for this alternative ruler view.
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About

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.

25 comments
Thack
Thack

Here's something interesting: click and hold on the ruler as described in the tip, using either Alt+Click or Left+Right Click, and watch your CPU graph. It's important to keep the mouse button(s)/alt key held down. Notice how the CPU utilisation rises to over 90%? As soon as you release the buttons/key it drops back to nothing again. Obviously a minor bug; there can't be any particular reason to flatten the CPU like that just because you're holding down the buttons/key. SteveT

krzyst0ff
krzyst0ff

I also discovered that the Left-Mouse-Button + ALT-key does the same thing, but is probably more ergonomic for many users.

XLTR
XLTR

Same result with Alt-Click

FirstHal
FirstHal

Love these shortcuts that are shared. If you're on a laptop holding down the Alt key and left clicking shows same info if moving margin or inserting a tab.

stapleb
stapleb

Well, how nifty is that! I knew there were ways to display the information but couldn't remember how, so thanks again Susan for your tips.

Jalapeno Bob
Jalapeno Bob

I wish there was a way to lock in the alternate view!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you have a favorite Word trick or way to reveal otherwise hidden information? Care to share it with your peers?

Thack
Thack

> I can't get it to work in 2010 Pro That's what I'm using and it works fine. Hold down the Alt key and left-click on the horizontal ruler. Remember, you must left-click in the LOWER HALF of the ruler, below the little divider dots, as you would when inserting a tab. I'm sure you'll get it to work. SteveT

johndoe4024
johndoe4024

Neat trick that gives useful info. But I am unable to use it without having a new Tab inserted as a result. Not exactly what one expects.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Thanks for mentioning the alternate method!

Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

It's way too easy to move a tab or margin while holding down the mouse button(s).

bjluedeke
bjluedeke

While trying out the hidden ruler, I discovered that you can double-click on the margin area (right or left click seems to give the same results) and bring up the Page Setup dialog box. Maybe this is well-known, but it's a new, welcome discovery for me. Along the same lines, double-clicking on an indent brings up the Paragraph dialog box and double-clicking on a tab brings up the Tabs dialog box. All this was in 2003.

Snak
Snak

is that of typing =RAND(n) where n is a number. The application will then produce n paragraphs of text. It works on blank (or not) pages, in table cells, text boxes, callouts etc. If you've never needed this you might think it useless; pointless even, but it has saved me writing 'The quick brown fox...' over and over many times.

prospero96
prospero96

Thanks for that tip. I've been using Office 2010 for a couple of months now (mainly Word, Outlook and Publisher), and am still getting used to the change from 2003.

stapleb
stapleb

Maybe you were not pointing at an existing tab when you tried this and thus ended up with an "extra" tab. It is just so wonderful when Word decides to help you - NOT.

johndoe4024
johndoe4024

Must be something else (auto correct?) that needs to be enabled. In 2007, I typed =rand(6) and got '=rand(6)

michael_boardman
michael_boardman

If you type =rand(2,3) and press Enter, you get two paragraphs with three sentences in each. By the way, both Snak's tip and this one work with rand in upper or lower case.

Rande
Rande

This is available in Word 2003. Amazing how little Word has changed since then.

jpl1953es
jpl1953es

I typed in Word 2007 =rand(6) and I got a text with 6 paragraphs presumably from Help file. Going back to the original post: When you reveal measurements, you can drag the margin and modify margins sizes while showing the value. This works in both rulers

gjschulte
gjschulte

WOW! It does indeed work in MSWord 97. I had never heard of that one before. Thanks for that tip.

zabinskis
zabinskis

Works in Office / Word 2000 also. Anyone on Word 97?

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