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: Clearing All Tabs in a Document.

Clearing All Tabs in a Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 18, 2017)


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.

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, and 2016. 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. ...


Merging Only a Date from Access

When you are merging data from an Access database, you may get more information than you want, especially when it comes ...

Discover More

Matching Formatting when Concatenating

Convert a numeric value to text and you may be surprised by how Excel displays the value. Here's a run-down on exactly ...

Discover More

Protecting a Table Column

Do you need a way to protect the information you put in a table? Word doesn't have a way to do this, but there are a few ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Accurately Setting Tabs Using the Ruler

If you try to set tabs by clicking on the Ruler, you may not be able to set them exactly where you want. This is normally ...

Discover More

Understanding Default Tab Stops

Ever wonder how Word determines the default setting for each tab stop in your document? This article should satisfy any ...

Discover More

Setting Decimal Tabs in a Table Using the Keyboard

Most people use the mouse to set tab stops in the paragraphs in a table. If you prefer to not use the mouse, then you'll ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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}] 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 2 + 9?

2017-04-14 13:49:00


Mark: The process above clears all tab stops. The result is that the "default tab stops" are then in effect. (This typically means that pressing the Tab key moves to the next half-inch horizontally.)

If you want to get rid of the actual tab characters in a document, you need to do so by using Find and Replace. Search for ^t (a caret followed by a lowercase t) and replace it with nothing. This will get rid of all the actual tab characters in the document.


2017-04-14 13:38:09

Mark Lajiness

This does not work. I have tried dozens of times, with chapters, sections of chapters, and individual paragraphs. I select the text. I go to paragraphs. I go to tabs. I click clear all. I click OK. NOTHING HAPPENS. I supposedly have the latest edition of Word, Microsoft 365. Is the program defective? I am formatting a 110,000 word novel for KDP, and I really don't want to go through the whole thing, erasing every tab via backspace, so that the Style Sheet will work effectively.

2017-03-20 12:30:18

Deb Fournier

Thanks, Allen. Your site has helped me tremendously throughout the years. I really appreciate your Tips!!!!

2017-03-18 08:44:02


A little quicker:
Hold Alt, and type the letter o.
Then just type the letter t.
It will bring you to the dialog box shown, where you can make your selection.

To remove all tab stops which have been inserted in a document, without changing the tab settings:
Hold Ctrl and type the letter h.
At Find what, enter "^t" (without the quote marks).
At Replace with, enter a space, so that you don't get words joined which were separated by the tab stop. If you don't mind that, just leave it blank.
Hold Alt and type the letter a.
All the tab stops will be remove (and replaced by a space).

If you want to replace the tab stops with a line break, at Replace with enter "^l" (lower case L) without the quotes.
If you want to replace the tab stops with a paragraph break, at Replace with enter "^p" without the quotes.
Other options: click on Special in the Find and Replace dialog box. You'll see the code appear in the Find what or the Replace with area.

2017-03-18 07:00:28

Rod Grealish


I can find the Home tab between the File tab and the Insert tab at the left-hand end of the ribbon. My version of Word is 2010. Perhaps you have a different version of Word.

2017-03-18 04:47:37

Peter Butler

Step 2: Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
How do I do that?
Dose this mean "click on the Home button"?
If so why does it not say "click on the Home button"?
If it means something else for me the rest of the article is irrelevant and surplus and a waste of time.
If you do not say exactly what you mean, nothing more nothing less, you will be wasting your time and more importantly OUR time!
Doing this (teaching) is a terrific responsibility, do it right or don't do it.

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

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.