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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Sorting a Text Selection

Word gives you the option to sort selected groups of text. You can do text, date or number sorts on whole paragraphs or ...

Discover More

Pasting and Matching Destination Formatting

Sometimes, getting numbers from a program into Excel, using the formatting you want, can be a challenge. This tip ...

Discover More

Resizing Checkboxes

If you create a user form in VBA that includes checkboxes, you may want to make the checkboxes larger. You can't adjust ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Using Two Characters as a Drop Cap

Want to add drop caps to your layout? They can provide a nice, appealing design element, but how you actually create the ...

Discover More

Working with Other People's Files

When you get files from other people, you may want a quick way to apply your formatting to their text. Provided that the ...

Discover More

Spelling Out Page Numbers

If your document is more than a couple of pages long, adding page numbers is a nice finishing touch. If you want, you can ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 4?

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.


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.