Word 2007: Using Indents and Tabs

Lesson 21: Using Indents and Tabs



Indents and TabsA great way to draw attention to specific text is to indent it. There are several ways you can indent text in Word; however, it’s important to use these tools appropriately and indent correctly each time. This can save time and make the editing process go smoothly.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use the tab selector and the horizontal ruler to set tabs and indents, as well as how to use the increase and decrease indent commands.

Using indents and tabs

Click the Show/Hide command on the Home tab. This will allow you to see the nonprinting characters such as the spacebar, paragraph, and Tab key markings.

To indent using the Tab key:

The most common way to indent is to use the Tab key. This method is best for indenting one line of text rather than multiple lines.

  • Place the insertion point to the left of the text you want to indent.
  • Press the Tab key. This indents the line 1/2 inch by default.

To use the Indent commands:

Using the Tab key to indent multiple lines can make formatting difficult if you add or remove text later. Indenting multiple lines is best done using the Indent commands.

  • Select the text you want to indent.
  • Click the Increase Indent command to increase the indent. The default is 1/2 inch. You can press the command multiple times.
  • Click the Decrease Indent command to decrease the indent.

To modify the default indent settings:

  • Select the Page Layout tab.
  • Select the text you want to modify.
  • Use the arrows or enter text in the fields to modify the Left and Right Indents.
Enter Indent Number

The tab selector

The tab selector is located above the vertical ruler on the left. Hover over the tab selector to see the name of the type of tab that's active.

Tab Selector

Tab options include:

  • First Line Indent Right Tab Icon: Inserts the indent marker on the ruler, and indents the first line of text in a paragraph
  • Hanging Indent Right Tab Icon: Inserts the hanging indent marker, and indents all lines other than the first line
  • Left Tab LeftTab Icon: Moves text to the right as you type
  • Center Tab Right Tab Icon: Centers text according to the tab
  • Right Tab Right Tab Icon: Moves text to the left as you type
  • Decimal Tab Right Tab Icon: Aligns decimal numbers using the decimal point
  • Bar Tab Right Tab Icon: Draws a vertical line on the document

To set a tab stop to indent the first line of text:

  • Click the tab selector until the First Line Indent icon is visible.
  • Left-click at any point on the horizontal ruler. The First Line Indent icon will appear.
First Line Indent
  • Press the Enter key to start a new paragraph, and your insertion point will automatically indent to that point.

To move a tab stop once you have inserted it, left-click and drag the tab stop back and forth on the ruler.

You can set a hanging indent the same way; however, this tab stop changes all other lines in a paragraph.

To set the left, center, right, and decimal tab stops:

  • Click the tab selector until the tab stop you want to use appears.
  • Left-click the location on the horizontal ruler where you want your text to appear.
Insert Tab Stops
  • Press the Tab key to reach the tab stop.

To use Find and Replace to replace existing text:

  • Click the Replace command on the Home tab. The Find and Replace dialog box appears.
Replace Command
  • Enter text in the Find field that you want to locate in your document.
  • Enter text in the Replace field that will replace the text in the Find box.
Find Replace Dialog Box
  • Click OK. The change is made in the document.

You can also use the Find command to locate specific information in a document. For example, if you are working with a 20-page report, it would be time consuming to search the document for a specific topic. You can use the Find command to locate all instances of a word or phrase in the document. This is a great way to save time when working with longer documents.


Use the report or any Word document you choose to complete this challenge.

  • Practice using the Tab key to indent the first line of a paragraph.
  • Select some text, and use the Increase and Decrease Indent commands to see how they change the text.
  • Explore the tab selector and all of the tab stops. Practice using each one.