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Setting the Default Tab Stops in OpenOffice Writer

OpenOffice.org Writer: Just Add It to My Tab

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times… When someone wants to tab let’s say 3 inches into a document they use the default half-inch tabs and hit the Tab key 6 times!

Don’t get me wrong, it works and all but the same key 6 times?

And don’t even get me started, when I see people try to line up decimals in a column of numbers! Tab, tab, tab, space, space, space – oh wait now they’re not lined up – delete… You’ve just got to know that there’s a way around this mess.

Obviously I’m looking to talk about cleaning up our tab usage in Writer, specifically, the quick way to set them so that it’s as easy to set custom stops for your needs, as it is to use the default stops.

For this hassle-free tab usage, we’ll need to be in the Print Layout View with the horizontal ruler displayed.


[1]The result looks like this in your program window:


[2]The default tab stops are the little upside-down T’s across the bottom of the ruler.

To over-ride the default and quickly insert your own, we’re going to use the little tab chooser button to the left of the ruler.


[3]If you click on this button, it will rotate between left, right, decimal and centered tab stops.

Here’s a list of them with the symbols used to indicate each type.


[4]To use this for setting custom tabs, simply rotate through until you have the symbol for the type of tab you need. Then click on the ruler where you need the tab set.

That’s it. You’ll find that the default tab stops to the left of yours are gone which means that the tab stop at 3 inches will now take one click of the Tab key not 6.

Obviously to add additional tab stops you repeat this process.

To remove them, simply click on it in the ruler and drag it down into the document – Poof, all gone!

There you have it – you can’t ask for custom tab stops any easier to set than that!

~ April