Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Aligning Plus/Minus Symbols.

Aligning Plus/Minus Symbols

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 5, 2015)

1

For scientific writing numeric data are often presented in tables in the format of mean +/- standard deviation (with the '+/-' represented by a single character, achieved by holding down the Alt key and press 0177 on the numeric keypad). To make the table look attractive, it is often desirable to have the +/- symbols of different rows aligned with each other.

There are a couple of ways you can align the symbols, depending on the characteristics of the data you are presenting. One solution is to use multiple columns in your table, so that the +/- character appears in its own column. Format the column to the left of the +/- column so that the numbers it contains are right-aligned. Format the +/- column so that it is left-aligned. The information in the two columns should now be butted up to each other, and you can modify the table properties (specifically the left and right cell margins) to adjust the apparent spacing between them. You can also remove the border line that Word automatically adds between columns, if desired.

If all this sounds like a lot of steps, it really can be—it depends on exactly how you want the information in the two columns to look. A simpler solution might be to simply set tab stops within the column itself. If there is no decimal point within the +/- numbers, then you can set a decimal tab in the column. Word automatically aligns the values as if the +/- symbol was really a decimal point.

If the values do have decimal points, then you can set multiple tabs within the column, and then use Ctrl+Tab to actually insert the tab character before the number (to align the number) and between the value and the +/- symbol (to align the symbol).

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12342) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Aligning Plus/Minus Symbols.

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

Converting WordPerfect Labels to Word

If you are relatively new to Word from the WordPerfect world, you may have a bunch of labels in a WordPerfect document that ...

Discover More

Default Click and Type Paragraph Style

When you use the Click and Type feature, Word uses applies the Normal style to the paragraph created. You can specify a ...

Discover More

Finding Excel 2007 Commands

Flummoxed by the new Excel 2007 interface? You aren't alone, but there is help. Microsoft has made available a handy Excel ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Automatic Blank Pages at the End of a Section

If you want to have a blank page at the end of a document section, you can insert one manually or you can use the technique ...

Discover More

Formatting a Cover Page

Formal reports look better when they are set up with an introductory cover page. Here's how you can add a cover page in a ...

Discover More

Making a Customized Theme Available to Others

Microsoft Office applications (including Word) allow you to work with collections of common formatting specifications, called ...

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}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. 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 one less than 4?

2015-11-05 06:58:59

Ron Allan

Why not use ± ?


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.