4. Editing Tab Stop Tables

Subtitles Enabled

Sign up for a free trial to access more free content.

Free trial


Improve the readability of tab stop tables by changing the column alignment type and add leaders to easily help to distinguish the rows.


Lesson Goal

Improve the look of a tab stop table with customization.

Tab stop alignment

There are 4 main types of tab stop alignment:


  • Left
  • Right
  • Center
  • Decimal


The first three work the same as normal alignment. Decimal aligns numeric values with decimals by keeping the decimals directly aligned beneath each other.


Click the tab alignment marker at the top left to change the alignment type. To update an existing tab stop to a new alignment type, you must remove it and then replace it.


To remove a tab stop, drag it downwards. To change the position, drag it to the left or right.


Tab Leaders

In the absence of table borders, it can be difficult to tell the rows apart, especially if there are large gaps in between each column. To make the rows easier to distinguish, you can use row leaders.


To enable row leaders, select the tab stop table, right-click, select paragraph and select tabs in the bottom left corner. Select the desired tab stop in the top right box. Then select the desired leader and click set. You must do this step for each tab stop.


In the previous lesson, we started creating a tab stop table.

In this lesson, we'll edit the tab stop table to improve the appearance.

Notice that in the original table, each column used a different type of alignment. At present, all columns in the tab stop table are left-aligned.

We'll update the alignment in the new table to match the original table. To do this, we'll select all the text in the table, and remove the first tab stop by dragging it downwards from the ruler.

If we look at the top left corner of the document, we see a small icon.

This indicates the alignment type.

This l icon indicates left alignment.

When we click it, the icon changes to an upside-down t.

This represents center alignment.

We'll place this standard center align icon at 6.5 centimeters to line up with the original table. Next, we want to make the third column right-aligned.

We'll click the center tab icon to change it to a backwards l. This represents right-alignment. We'll remove the second tab stop and replace it with a right tab stop.

Note that when we do this, the text in the final column tries to finish at the 10 centimeter mark instead of starting there. This is why the table currently looks a little messy.

To fix this, we'll extend the length of our column, we'll click and hold the right-align icon in the ruler, and drag it to the right.

We'll judge this by eye, and drop it where it looks best.

If we click the tab alignment icon again, we see an upside down t with a period. This is called a decimal tab.

It's best to use a decimal tab when the column contains numbers with decimal places.

Finally, the original table used periods to connect the rows. These are called leaders, and they help make the rows look more distinct.

They also make the table easier to read by separating columns with different punctuation marks.

We can add these in a tab stop table without meshing the period key. We'll select all the data in the table, excluding the titles.

We'll then right click, select Paragraph, and then select the Tabs button at the bottom left of the window.

There are a few leader options here, period, dash, and underscore.

We'll select period, and then Set to apply it.

This will only set a leader for the first column at 6 1/2 centimeters, so we'll click the next tab stop, set the same leader type, and click OK.

We now have a guide between the info in each row, which helps readability.

Conventional tables in Word cannot do this, so if this is a particular look you want for your document, you must use a tab stop table.

We'll make one last change and fix the alignment of the Email column tittle.

We'll place the cursor on the word Email and drag the tab stop to the desired spot.

We'll now delete the original table.

After creating a tab stop table, you'll likely want to return to writing normal paragraphs without the tab stops we just created.

Unfortunately, inserting multiple hard returns beneath tab stop tables doesn't clear the tab stops.

To clear them, open Tab Options, and click Clear All.

Alternatively, you can avoid this by having some hard returns beneath the tab stop table before you start building it.

This concludes the lesson on tab stop tables. While you may not use tab stop tables often, it's important to know how to create them, especially if you work with documents that contain tables of contents or indexes.

Adding Bullet Points and Tables


My Notes

You can take notes as you view lessons.

Sign in or start a free trial to avail of this feature.

Free Trial

Download our training resources while you learn.

Sign in or start a free trial to avail of this feature.

Free Trial