Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Precise Ruler Adjustments.

Precise Ruler Adjustments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 9, 2020)

5

You already know that you can precisely adjust items by using the various dialog boxes that Word makes available through the use of the menus. For instance, you can precisely adjust tab settings by using the Tabs dialog box, which is displayed by starting at the Home tab of the ribbon, clicking the icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group (to display the Paragraph dialog box), and then clicking the Tabs button at the bottom-left of the dialog box.

There are times, however, when you may want to do some precise formatting using the mouse, instead of pulling up a dialog box. If the formatting element is displayed on the Ruler, you are in luck—Word provides a handy way to be very precise. All you need to do is hold down the Alt key as you use the mouse to drag different items around on the Ruler. When you do this, Word displays distances on the Ruler very precisely, allowing you to adjust positioning to a hundredth of an inch.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10596) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Precise Ruler Adjustments.

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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2021-08-09 04:53:10

YossiD

In Word 2007, pressing the Alt key would display precise ruler measurements immediately, without the need to move the mouse. How can that be done in the newer versions of Word? I want to be able to see the current precise settings, but moving the mouse changes them.


2020-07-09 13:35:46

Allan

I don't know why the term "if you are in luck" was used here.
Anyway here is the procedure copied from above.
"All you need to do is hold down the Alt key as you use the mouse to drag different items around on the Ruler. When you do this, Word displays distances on the Ruler very precisely, allowing you to adjust positioning to a hundredth of an inch."
Jennifer also has an answer.


2020-07-09 10:36:34

Len M.

In this tip, you state that "if the formatting element is displayed on the Ruler, you are in luck". Could you explain how to know if the formatting element is displayed on the ruler, and if it is not, how to display it.


2020-07-09 09:08:01

David Allen

That's brilliant! Thanks. I never had a clue about that facility.


2015-12-07 10:02:37

Jennifer Thomas

You can also get the numerical display by holding down both left and right mouse buttons as you drag.


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