That little tab key on your keyboard is excellent for moving between table cells or elements on a form. It can be used to align decimals in a list, and to create blank lines on forms. But never, NEVER, use tab marks instead of format settings. First, here’s how to reveal the tab marks.
Never use tabs to
- manually align paragraphs or table elements
- indent the first line (set the style instead)
- create hanging indents (use the ruler or a style instead)
- manually number and align lists (use the numbered list style available in literally any program in which you type text, other than social media)
- manually create a table (convert that now)
Why you should never use tab marks
Tab marks don’t let text reflow when anything changes! Someone will have to manually realign everything if they change the font type, font size, page/column margins, or even punctuation.
Use tabs marks to
On the rare occasion, tabs are great layout aids. But if you’re typing a tab mark mid sentence, or using more than one tab mark, you’re most certainly doing it wrong and creating headaches for everyone down the road. The best use of tab marks are to:
- align decimals vertically
- create a blank for writing (use the line leader)
- right-align page numbers in a table of contents (use the right tab mark!)
Get a free booklet on working with tables, which addresses many of these tab uses and abuses.
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