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Barry MacDonnell's
Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
© Copyright 1996-2016 by Barry MacDonnell. All Rights Reserved.

Page updated Jul 6, 2017

WordPerfect Tips
Main tips page | Browse tips
Tab settings
in WordPerfect


WordPerfect menu choices refer to the <WordPerfect> menu. (Right-click on WordPerfect's top menu bar for a choice of menus.)

If you use a <Microsoft Word> menu, the choices might be absent from your menu (but not from the program), or they might be found under another menu selection.

If the menu choices or toolbars discussed on this site seem to be missing from your program, see here.

Related pages & tips -

•  Indent paragraphs with dot leaders

•  Tip on creating Flush Right and Centered Text with dot leaders on the same line

•  How to create custom tab settings for number/letter/bullet outlines to restrict the settings to the outlines only

•  TabSet25 - a macro to quickly set tabs every 0.25" from either the top of the document, from the cursor location, or to the selection of text

•  Using "Other Codes" [including hard tabs] in WordPerfect

•  Automatically indent the first line of paragraphs (N.B., this is a paragraph setting, not a tab setting)

•  How to create signature lines and underlines up to the margin with tabs (includes 3 macros to automate these methods)
There are several types of tab stops available in WordPerfect:

•  Left
•  Center
•  Right
•  Decimal
•  Dot Left
•  Dot Center
•  Dot Right
•  Dot Decimal
Any of these types can be set from either the left margin or the left edge of the page, which gives 16 variations. Here are some examples based on settings 4" from the left margin and the left edge of the page:

Tab type examples

There are several ways to set tab stops, clear them, or restore tab setting defaults:

☼  Use the drop list menu.

•  Right-click on the ruler just under the horizontal ruler line at the desired tab location. [If the ruler is not visible use View, Ruler.] Alternatively click on the small button to the left of the toolbar that shows a left tab (triangle) symbol.

This opens a drop list where you can choose the tab type to insert:

Tab set drop list

Note that you can also clear the first tab, clear all tabs, set default tab settings, or set multiple tabs with Tab Set on that dialog (or with Format, Line, Tab Set).

☼  Alternatives to using the drop list menu.

•  A Left tab can also be set by simply left-clicking on the ruler under the horizontal ruler line at the desired tab location.

•  You can clear any tab by click-dragging its triangle symbol from the ruler.

•  Similarly you can move a tab stop by dragging it left or right.

•  In addition to the 16 standard tabs settings above you can set 4 types of hard tabs and 4 types of hard tabs with dot leaders using special format codes (Format, Line, Other Codes). Hard tabs do not change when you change regular tab settings. Use a hard tab when you need to insert a tab without changing the tab type or affecting the tabs for the rest of the document.

•  With these methods you have 24 tab settings available in any document.

☼  Notes & tips.

¤  The tab setting methods above will add a new [Tab Set] code at the beginning of that line's location. Like most format codes you can double-click on that code to view or edit its settings.

Related tip: Use the new [Tab Set] code elsewhere:

You can carefully select and copy <Ctrl+C> just that new [Tab Set] code to the clipboard and then paste it <Ctrl+V> into another document -- or even into your default template's initial style code so that the tabs will automatically appear in new documents (e.g., see How to set default formatting for new documents: A step-by-step guide here under Method 1, Step 3).

If any other codes "travel" along with the pasted code (e.g., a [Font] code), you can simply delete them in the target's Reveal Codes window.

¤  You can specify a dot leader character other than a dot -- including using a symbol character -- and the dot spacing in the Tab Set dialog. You can also specify the decimal alignment.

¤  To display symbols -- e.g., a right arrow at the tab location in the body text, a dot for spaces, etc. -- use <Ctrl+Shift+F3> to show or hide them. 

Using tabs and indents:

•  The <Tab> key moves the cursor -- any following text on that line -- to the next tab stop.

- In tables, the <Tab> key moves to the next cell.

- In outlines, <Tab> demotes the level (moves it to a lower level) when the cursor is before any text.

- Many dialogs let you use the Tab key to move between controls.

•  You can use <Shift+Tab> for a Hard Back Tab (a.k.a., a "margin release"). [Tips: You can also use Format, Paragraph, Back Tab. Or you can add a button to a toolbar or property bar for a hard back tab. It's under the Format drop list in the Toolbar Editor (named "Back Tab"; its icon is an arrow pointing leftward toward a vertical bar or margin). To add it to a toolbar or property bar see here.]

When entering text in the document a Hard Back Tab is useful to "outdent" the first line of text a tab stop from (i.e., beyond) the left margin. Remaining lines in the paragraph will wrap at the left margin. [See also the similar feature, Hanging Indent, below.]

[Side note: The term "margin release" comes from the typewriter era when a lever or key on a typewrite temporarily released the current margin stop to allow typing in the margin area.]

- If there is room outside (to the left of) the left margin you can use more than one Hard Back Tab to extend the first line a greater extent (but not into the document's non-printable area, which depends on your selected printer).

- In tables, <Shift+Tab> moves to the cell on the left.

- In outlines, <Shift+Tab> promotes the level (moves it to a higher level) when the cursor is before any text.

[Tip: Format, Paragraph, Back Tab can also be useful (e.g.) to create indented paragraphs with dot leaders as described here.]

•   To indent the entire current paragraph to the next tab stop -- everything up to a hard return [HRt] code or up to the end of a paragraph style -- use Format, Paragraph, Indent or F7 (F4 on the DOS keyboard).

This inserts a hard left indent ([Hd Left Ind]) code in Reveal Codes. The effect is to wrap the paragraph's text at the tab stop, not at the left margin.

- You can also use Format, Paragraph Double Indent to simultaneously indent the paragraph from both the left and right.

- Also see Format, Paragraph, Hanging Indent, which is similar to the Hard Back Tab above (it inserts a [Hd Back Tab] code) -- but it also inserts a hard left indent code
([Hd Left Ind]) at that location. The effect is to create a paragraph with the first line "outdented" a tab stop from the rest of the paragraph, which is indented from the margin. In other words, the first line starts at the left margin, not from a point beyond it as is the case with a simple margin release (above).

- If you select multiple paragraphs first then all of them will be indented.

•   To automatically indent the first line of paragraphs you can use a paragraph setting (not a tab setting): Format, Paragraph, Format. This inserts a code ([First Ln Ind]) that automatically sets the first line indent for a new paragraph when you press <Enter> to end the previous paragraph. Note that this code is subordinate to other paragraph indents at that location, but it is useful for ordinary (non-indented) paragraphs. [For more on this feature -- and a way to deal with possible unwanted indents for Heading styles when this setting is active -- see here.]

•  For more information about adding, aligning, copying, moving tabs (etc.), or using indents, see your WordPerfect's Help (F1) Index under "tab stops" and "indenting text".

•  To set up custom tab settings for new documents see here. (Hint: The settings are easily made in your default template or custom template.)

•  See also the related pages in the left sidebar.