Tag Archives for " tabs course "

2 Why hanging indents are beautiful things

Okay, The Guru has a confession to make: I used to be afraid of hanging indents.

This, of course, is silly. Of all the things in the world there are to be afraid of — snakes, heights, public speaking, thermonuclear war, global economic meltdowns — hanging indents are pretty innocuous. But I did, until fairly recently, go through a period where I avoided doing hanging indents because I kept getting confused by them. (More on that later.)

Some of you are asking, “What is a hanging indent?” It’s a style of paragraph indentation that has the first line flush with the left margin but indents all of the subsequent lines in the paragraph, like so:


(If you had to write term papers in APA Style in college, you recognize the format.)

Now you’re asking, “So what’s so scary about a hanging indent?” and “Why should I care about ’em?” Let me explain.

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When a tab is not just a tab, part 3: Center tabs

Okay, show of hands: How many of you remember being taught how to center text in typing class? (Alright, hands down. Those of you who responded with “Typing class? What’s typing class?” have officially made me feel ancient.)

For you youngsters out there, here’s how it went down: All of us typing students rolled a sheet of paper through the platen (look it up, kiddies) of the typewriter and spaced over to the center of the page 4.25″ from each edge (using the tab key and space bar), calculated how many letters and spaces were in whatever phrase we wanted centered, divided by two, then backspaced from the center point by that many spaces.

Years later, it exhausts me just to describe it.

Fortunately, modern word processors like Microsoft Word make exercises like this obsolete. Oh, sure, you already know how to center text, right? But using center justification centers the text between the left and right margins. But what if you want to center text across another point on the page?

Answer: center tabs.

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9 How to set tabs (without tearing your hair out)

It ought to be pretty simple, really. Even though Microsoft Word, by default, sets left tabs every half inch (at least in the U.S. version – elsewhere may vary), sometimes you need something different. Even if only for a particular part of your document. So, how on earth do you set tabs in Microsoft Word?

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11 When a tab is not just a tab, part 2: right tabs

Ever have a document that needs to have a paragraph like this?

Left and right justified text on the same line - with tables

I usually accomplish this trick (having left- and right-justified text on the same line) in Microsoft Word with Tables.  For me, tables make a lot of alignment issues a lot easier.  Here, I’ll turn on the gridlines (on the Table Tools | Layout tab that comes up whenever your cursor is in a table) and show you:

Left and right justified text on the same line - with table gridlines showing


Pretty straightforward if you’re use to Tables in Microsoft Word.  The left column is left-justified, and the right column is right-justified.  Easy-peasy … if you know how.

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9 When a tab is not just a tab, part 1: decimal tabs

We all know what a tab is, right?  It's that key near the upper left-hand corner of the keyboard we press to indent the first line of a paragraph.

Sometimes, though, simply moving the cursor over half an inch isn't what we want.

Take, for example, something like this:

Those numbers look okay -- they seem to line up pretty well.  But how did this person get this result?  Let's turn on Show/Hide (that paragraph symbol on the Home tab in the Paragraph section) to see the codes:

Ah, I see.  This person used Left Tabs (the default tabs you get when you hit the Tab key) to move the cursor to the left (signified by the left-pointing arrows above), then hit the space bar (the dots above) to get the numbers to line up.

But how well do they really line up?  Let's turn on the gridlines (found on the View tab) to see:

Oooooh. Those numbers (and decimals) don't line up so well after all.  But what else can you do?

Decimal tabs!

Decimal tabs allow you to fix the point on the line at which the decimal will appear.  When you hit the Tab key to go to a decimal tab, you start typing the number, and the cursor stays in place while the digits ahead of the decimal point (such as dollars) move leftward.  Once you type the decimal, the cursor then moves to the right as you type the digits behind the decimal (such as cents).

It's probably easier to show you than tell you:

[Note: To view full-screen, click the button in the lower right-hand corner]

This is a basic introduction to decimal tabs for those who (a) didn't know they existed or (b) were too intimidated to try them.  There are more advanced strategies for managing tabs in documents, particularly if you have the Ruler turned on in the View tab like so:

... but that's a tutorial for another day.  This will at least get you started with getting your decimals all lined up!