What to do when you can't change the tabs from Word's ruler

If you're trying to format a selection of paragraphs that have different indents, Word won't let you set tabs for all of them using the handy ruler shortcut. Here's a trick for getting around this limitation.

Using the ruler to add tab settings is a common practice. However, users often find that when they try to use the ruler to change the tab settings of multiple paragraphs all at once, nothing happens. For example, say you're formatting some text that has been copied from several documents, each with its own first-line paragraph indent settings (Figure A). When you select the text, all tab markers are grayed out and can't be changed.

Figure A

mixed text

Fortunately, you don't have to go back and change each paragraph individually. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the paragraphs whose tabs you want to reformat.
  2. Press Alt + O + T (or double-click one of the grayed-out tab markers on the ruler..
  3. In the Tabs dialog box (Figure B), click Clear All and then OK.

Figure B


  1. Click the horizontal ruler at the 1-inch marker to define the new tab setting for the selected paragraphs.
As Figure C shows, all paragraphs are now indented identically.

Figure C


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