This article covers horizontal paragraph alignments, vertical page alignments, paragraph indentation options, and the use of tabs to align decimal numbers.
Alignments, Indentations, and Tabs
Horizontal Text Alignment
There are three horizontal text alignments, four if you include full justification. The table below summarizes their appearance and uses.
Applying Horizontal Alignments
When aligning text in a paragraph don't waste time selecting the paragraph or any of its text. Just move the insertion point anywhere inside the paragraph and give the command.
If you're aligning text using direct formatting (as opposed to using a Style), you can use the alignment tools in the Paragraph group of the Home tab, but using the keyboard is much faster and easier.
Vertical Text Alignment
By default, pages are top-aligned, but title pages are usually centered vertically, and the first page of a chapter is frequently shortened and aligned to bottom of the page.
Positioning text vertically using empty paragraphs is not a good way to go because:
Instead, use the Vertical Alignment command which automatically adjusts text to the page's vertical center each time changes are made.
Vertical Alignment is one of the most elusive commands in the MS-Word user interface unless you remember that it is a Page command.
When vertically centered, the selected text gets put on its own page. If there was text before or after it, that text gets pushed to the page before or after.
First of all, never use the spacebar to position text horizontally. That was Ok on typewriters with their non-proportional typeface, but with proportional typeface, indentations using spaces will vary widely, even when equal numbers of spaces are used.
Traditionally, tabs were used to indent paragraphs and position text horizontally. Because tabs have absolute widths, they do an excellent job of lining things up in columns.
Tabs, however, have been superceeded by newer alignment methods which offer greater convenience and flexibility.
Word processors offer several variations of indentation and they can be applied in combinations with each other.
Examine the following indentation examples and compare them with each other to see results of various combinations.
Here are the two types of paragraph indentation: first-line indent, and hanging line indent.
Both of these indentations can have their amount of left indentation increased:
Likewise, right indentation can also be increased:
And left and right indentation can increase:
There are several ways to approach the application of indentation options to paragraphs.
Paragraph Dialog Box
Although dragging the indent markers using the mouse is a quick way to make adjustments, results can be unexpected or inconsistent until you've had a bit of practice. If things go wrong, remember Ctrl-Z (Undo).
To toggle the Ruler on and off, use the View Ruler button. It's that little white blob directly above the upper arrow of the vertical scroll bar. Remember to remove the Ruler when it's unused.
As already noted, for indentation, tabs have been replaced by the alignment and indentation tools discussed above.
Tabs should also be considered obsolete for positioning text into rows and columns because tables offer far greater flexibility and convenience.
There is one job for which Tabs still rule: lining up columns of decimal numbers. Here's how to set up decimal tabs:
Bruce Miller, 2000, 2005, 2014
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