Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph.

Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 14, 2019)

Dot leaders are dots (which look like periods) that appear to the left of information. Dot leaders are often used in tables of contents or in some tabular material. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. An example of dot leaders.

Word allows you to automatically place dot leaders in tabular material. (That is, in material that uses tabs to separate information on a line or in a paragraph.) Simply follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is in the paragraph in which you want the dot leaders. (If you want to use dot leaders in multiple paragraphs, select all the paragraphs.)
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  4. Click the Tabs button. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Tabs dialog box.

  6. Either select an existing tab stop location or enter a tab stop measurement in the Tab Stop Position box.
  7. Make sure the Alignment type is set as desired.
  8. In the Leader area, click on the second option, which looks like a line of periods or dots.
  9. Click on Set.
  10. Click on OK.

All these steps do is to define how you want Word to treat the tab stop in the paragraph (or paragraphs) you specified in step 1. Now, in those paragraphs, you can see the effect of the tab stop by typing some text, pressing the Tab key, and then typing a bit more text. When you pressed the Tab key—assuming the insertion point was to the left of the measurement you specified in step 5—you should have seen the leader dots appear and the text jumped over to the tab stop position.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6086) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Using Dot Leaders in a Paragraph.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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