How to Work with Word 2010’s Decimal Tab

By Dan Gookin

You can use the decimal tab in Word 2010 to line up columns of numbers. Although you can use a right tab to do this job, the decimal tab is a better choice. Rather than right-align text, as the right tab does, the decimal tab aligns numbers by their decimal portion — the period in the number:

1Start a blank line of text.

You can either open a new document or press Enter to go to the next line of your current document.

Close-up of the ruler and tab button in Word.

2If the Ruler isn't visible, click the View Ruler button.

You can find this button on top of the vertical scroll bar.

Setting the decimal tab stop in Word's ruler.

3Select the Decimal tab stop from the Tab gizmo on the Ruler.

The Decimal tab stop icon looks a little funny.

4Click the mouse at the 3-inch position on the Ruler.

This step sets the tab stop.

5Type the left-column text, press the Tab key, and then type the numerical amount.

The number is right-justified until you press the period key. After that, the rest of the number is left-justified. So, the number lines up so that the period is at the decimal-tab stop. When you type something without a period in it, it’s shown right-justified.

A Word list created using the ruler and tabs.

6End that line of text by pressing Enter.

Repeat Steps 5 through 6 for each line in the list.

7To adjust your text, select all lines as a block and then use the mouse to move the decimal-tab stop on the Ruler.

You can fiddle around with the position of your text until it looks just the way you want it.