Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Clearing All Tabs in a Document.

Clearing All Tabs in a Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 4, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


If you received a document from someone else, you may be charged with the responsibility to format the document. One of the first steps you may want to take is to remove all the tab stops in the document, thereby returning all paragraphs to their "pristine" state where only default tabs are in place.

If you want to remove all the tabs stops in a document, the quick way is to follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+A. This shortcut selects the entire document.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  4. Click the Tabs button, at the bottom-left of the dialog box. Word displays the Tabs dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Tabs dialog box.

  6. Click on the Clear All button.
  7. Click on OK.

That's it. You can now go through the document, on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and set any tab stops desired.

One final thing: Remember that the above steps remove tab stops, not tab characters; they are different. Tab stops determine the horizontal location to which text following a tab character will be positioned. If you remove tab stops (again, following the steps above), then the tab characters remain in your document and will still affect horizontal positioning of any text that follows that tab character. If you want to remove tab characters, then you can use Find and Replace. Simply search for ^t (which is the tab character) and replace it with nothing or, if appropriate for your document, with a single space.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12073) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Clearing All Tabs in a Document.

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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