Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Using tab-stops in MS Word

This post ought to interest people who are busy updating their resumes.

Please open up your resume in MS Word, and hit the button that looks like this symbol - ¶. That button is available on the standard toolbar – you might have to add buttons to view it.

Now, let’s take a look at two snapshots of a resume.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Make note of the poor alignment on the right side in Figure 1. The two lines don’t end at exactly the same length. What’s more, there’s an arbitrary number of tabs and space bars one has had to use to get the alignment as close as possible to ideal. But hey, what happens when you change the margins of the document? You’d have to go tabbing and spacing all over again to fix the alignment. Figure 2, on the other hand, seems a lot crisper. There’s only one tab that has been used, and that has taken care of everything. If figure 1 is what your resume looks like, and figure 2 is how you would like it to look, please read on.

The following steps will help you use a feature called “tab-stops” which is present in most word-processing software (including MS Word), but can be quite a pain to understand and use.

So, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Create a new style
    1. Menus --> Format --> Styles & Formatting
    2. Click on New Style. Specify the name, font, font-size, etc. Ensure that the Style Type is set to Paragraph.
    3. Click on “Format”
    4. Click on “Tabs”. A new options box should pop-up. The tab stop position should be set by default to 1’’
    5. Click on “Clear All”
    6. In the tab stop position, write in the length of your horizontal ruler. This would typically be the width of your page minus the margins that you’ve specified. For a page setup using “Letter”, and margin 1.25”, this would be 8.25” – 1.25” -1.25” = 6”
    7. Set the alignment as "Right".
    8. Click on “Set”, then “Ok”
    9. Save the style with a meaningful name
  2. Write out your line saying “Indian School of Business Hyderabad India”. Ensure that you provide only one tab between the words “Business” and “Hyderabad
  3. Apply your newly created style to the line.

Hopefully, your alignment problem would be solved. Now, if you need to change the margins of your page, you’d need to reset the tab stop position to something that suits the new margins.


Anonymous said...

thnx for sharing the info da.

Sangi said...

This is interesting! There will be many souls blessing u for this piece of info!

chiranth said...


I hope it's easy to implement. Did help me a lot. The tabs & spaces were getting nasty.

Anonymous said...

That helps!!

chiranth said...


you're welcome!

Blaise Gassend said...

You don't actually have to create a new style to use tab stops. You can create them very easily by clicking on the ruler at the top of the page. The little tab icon to the left of the ruler allows you to pick what type of tab stop you want.

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