Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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: Changing Default Tab Stops.

Changing Default Tab Stops

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 18, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


5

Normally, Word assumes that when you press the Tab key in a paragraph that you want to move the insertion point to the next half inch. This assumes, of course, that you have not set any tabs for the current paragraph. If you want to change the default tab stops for the document in which you are working, you can do so as follows:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  3. Click the Tabs button. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  5. Change the value in the Default Tab Stops control. You can change it in .01-inch increments, from 0.01 inches to 22 inches.
  6. Click on OK.

Remember that the change you make affects the current document and only those paragraphs that don't have any explicit tab stops set.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7067) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Changing Default Tab Stops.

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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What is two minus 1?

2023-08-22 10:11:23

Adrienne

Andrew, thanks for your response. I need to look up how to change the Normal template.


2023-08-21 09:37:30

Paul

"Remember that the change you make affects the current document and only those paragraphs that don't have any explicit tab stops set."
If you asked 100 people which paragraph(s) in which document(s) would be affected, exactly zero would answer correctly. Microsoft should explain this in a pop-up tip.


2023-08-21 09:15:07

Andrew

Adrienne, you make this change in the template on which your documents are based - usually this will be the Normal template (Normal.dotm).

Andy.


2023-08-18 13:29:00

Adrienne Scher

How can I change the default tab settings for all documents? Not just for the one I'm in. I don't want to have to reset them for every document. Thanks!


2021-04-24 22:50:36

Linda Smithers

I think this will help me greatly.


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