A few months ago, I wrote a tutorial on creating and using tabs. The one thing missing from that piece is how to change the default tabs for a document. Word’s default tabs are set at half-inch intervals, but that won’t always be the most efficient setting. Fortunately, you can change the default tab stop for the current document, as follows:

  1. Click the Home tab and then click the Paragraph group’s dialog launcher (the small arrow in the bottom-right corner). In Word 2003, choose Tab from the Format menu.
  2. Click Tabs (in the bottom-left corner).
  3. Change the default tab from .50 to .25. (There are other attributes you can change as well.)
  4. Click OK.

After making this easy change, default tabs will be every quarter inch instead of every half inch. You can make the tabs smaller or larger to suit your needs.

Changing the default requires a bit of planning because changing this default will adjust any existing tabs, accordingly. (Notice that the original tab stops at each half inch mark are at the quarter-inch mark in the second figure.)