How to Use the Tabs Dialog Box to Set Tabs in Word 2016

By Dan Gookin

For precisely setting tabs in Word 2016, bring up the Tabs dialog box. It’s also the only way to get at certain types of tabs, such as dot leader tabs, which are covered elsewhere in this chapter.

Keep in mind that the Tabs dialog box doesn’t work like a typical Word dialog box: You must set the tab position and type first and then click the Set button. Click the OK button only when you’re done setting tabs. Generally speaking, the process works like this:

  1. Click the Home tab.

  2. In the lower-right corner of the Paragraph group, click the dialog box launcher.

    The Paragraph dialog box appears. Tabs are, after all, a paragraph-level format.

  3. Click the Tabs button.

    The Tabs dialog box appears, as shown.

    The Tabs (tab stop) dialog box.

    The Tabs (tab stop) dialog box.
  4. Enter the tab stop position in the Tab Stop Position box.

    You can be precise, if you like.

  5. Choose the type of tab stop from the Alignment area.

    Word’s five tab stop types are covered elsewhere in this chapter.

  6. Click the Set button.

    The tab stop is added to the Tab Stop Position list.

  7. Continue setting tab stops.

    Repeat Steps 2 through 6 for as many tab stops as you need to set.

  8. Click OK.

You must click the Set button to set a tab stop! Don’t click OK instead, thinking that the tab stop is set when it isn’t.

The tab stops you set affect the current paragraph or a selected group of paragraphs.

If the ruler is visible, you can quickly summon the Tabs dialog box: Double-click any existing tab stop.