Organize Information in Columns and Tables in Microsoft Word 2010

  • 6/2/2010

Creating Tabbed Lists

If you have a relatively small amount of data to present, you might choose to display it in a tabbed list, which arranges text in simple columns separated by tabs. You can align the text within the columns by using left, right, centered, or decimal tab stops.

When entering text in a tabbed list, inexperienced Word users have a tendency to press the Tab key multiple times to align the columns of the list with the default tab stops. If you do this, you have no control over the column widths. To be able to fine-tune the columns, you need to set custom tab stops rather than relying on the default ones.

When setting up a tabbed list, you should press Tab only once between the items that you want to appear in separate columns. Next you apply any necessary formatting. And finally, you set the custom tab stops. Set left, right, centered, and decimal tabs to control the alignment of the column content, or set a bar tab to add a vertical line to visually separate list columns. By setting the tabs in order from left to right, you can check the alignment of the text within each column as you go.

In this exercise, you’ll first enter text separated by tabs and format the text. Then you’ll set custom tab stops to create a tabbed list.

  1. Set the zoom percentage to a level that is comfortable for you, and then press Ctrl+End to move the cursor to the blank line at the end of the document.

  2. Type Location, press Tab, type Discount Applies, press Tab, type Hourly Rate, and then press Enter.

  3. Add three more lines to the list by typing the following text, pressing the Tab and Enter keys where indicated.

    In home Tab No Tab $50.00 Enter

    Phone Tab Yes Tab $35.00 Enter

    In store Tab Yes Tab $40.00 Enter

    The tab characters push the items to the next default tab stop, but because some items are longer than others, they do not line up.


    In a tabbed list, it’s important to press the Tab key only once between items.

  4. Select the first line of the tabbed list, and then on the Mini Toolbar that appears, click the Bold button.

  5. Select all four lines of the tabbed list, and then on the Mini Toolbar, click the Increase Indent button.

  6. With the tabbed list still selected, on the Page Layout tab, in the Paragraph group, under Spacing, change the After setting to 0 pt.

  7. Click the tab setting button at the junction of the horizontal and vertical rulers until the Center Tab button is active. (You will probably have to click only once.) Then click the 2.5 inch mark on the horizontal ruler.


    On the ruler, Word sets a center-aligned tab stop that looks like the Center Tab icon. The items in the second column of the tabbed list center themselves at that position.

  8. Click the tab setting button once.

    The Right Tab button is now active.

  9. With the Right Tab button active, click the horizontal ruler at the 4.5 inch mark.


    On the ruler, Word sets a right-aligned tab stop that looks like the Right Tab icon. The items in the third column of the tabbed list right-align themselves at that position.

  10. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Show/Hide ¶ button to hide the tabs, paragraph marks, and other formatting marks. Then click away from the tabbed list to see the results.


    The tabbed list resembles a simple table.


    You have created a simple table-like layout with just a few clicks.