How to Align Text Using Tabs in Google Docs

714833 How to Align Text Using Tabs in Google Docs

Aligning text in Google Docs allows you to precisely control the placement of text on the page. Using tabs and custom tab stops gives you more formatting options compared to just using spaces.

Here’s an overview of how to align text with tabs in Google Docs:

When to Use Tabs for Alignment

Tabs are useful for:

  • Aligning numbers, text, dates or tables in columns
  • Creating forms, resumes or reports with data in specific positions
  • Adding visual structure like indenting paragraphs

Key benefits:

  • Text stays aligned if font size or text changes
  • More control than just using spaces
  • Create left, center, right or decimal aligned columns

Display the Ruler

To access tabs and tab stops, you first need to display the ruler:

  • Go to View > Show Ruler
  • A ruler will appear along the top and left side
  • Use the ruler to add, edit or remove tabs

Adding a Tab Stop

To add a custom tab stop:

  1. Click on the ruler where you want the tab stop
  2. Select the alignment:
    • Left align
    • Center
    • Right align

The tab stop is now added at that position on the ruler.

When you press Tab, the text will jump to the next tab stop instead of the default 0.5 inch spacing.

Editing Tab Stops

To edit an existing tab stop:

  • Click directly on the tab marker on the ruler
  • Drag it left or right to the new position

Any text aligned to that tab will move along with the tab stop.

Removing Tabs

To delete a tab stop:

  • Click on the tab marker on the ruler
  • Drag it downwards off the ruler

The text will then jump to the next tab stop when you press Tab. If no tabs remain, it will use the default 0.5 inch spacing.

Aligning Text Examples

Here are some examples of aligning text with tabs:

Centered Text

{ts:30}Centered Heading{ts:100}Date

This centers text, then jumps to the 4 inch position to right align the date.

Formatting Tables

Name {ts:100}Phone Number {ts:150}
John Doe555-1234
Jane Smith555-5678

Left aligns names, right aligns phone numbers in organized columns.

Indenting Lists

  • Fruit
    • {ts:20}Apples
    • {ts:20}Oranges
    • {ts:20}Bananas
  • Vegetables
    • {ts:20}Carrots
    • {ts:20}Broccoli
    • {ts:20}Spinach

Indents sub-lists by 0.5 inches.


  • Use tabs to align different elements like text, numbers or dates
  • Add left, center or right tab stops on the ruler
  • Format tables, forms, resumes or reports
  • Create organized indents for lists
  • Edit tab positions by dragging markers on the ruler
  • Remove tabs by dragging them off the ruler

Aligning text with tabs gives you precise control over text placement. Understanding how to add, edit and remove custom tab stops allows you to create organized documents in Google Docs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about aligning text with tabs:

Can I use tabs on mobile Google Docs?

You can use existing tabs and tab stops when editing documents on mobile apps. However, the ruler is not available to add, edit or remove tab stops. Use the desktop web version for full tab functionality.

What’s the difference between tabs and indents?

Tabs allow you to jump cursor position to a precise spot to align text. Indents move an entire paragraph to the right. Use tabs within paragraphs for alignment. Use indents to separate paragraphs visually.

How do I remove all tab stops?

Drag all custom tab stops downwards off the ruler to remove them. This will revert back to the default 0.5 inch tab spacing.

What happens if I set a tab stop on top of an existing one?

The new tab stop will override the existing one at that position. You can only have one tab stop per ruler position.

Can I use decimal tabs?

Google Docs does not have an option to add decimal tabs. You can align decimals by adding a custom right align tab stop.


Aligning text with tabs gives you precise control in Google Docs:

  • Display the ruler to access tabs
  • Add custom tab stops for alignment
  • Use left, center and right alignment
  • Edit tabs by dragging markers on the ruler
  • Remove tabs by dragging off the ruler

With an understanding of how tabs and rulers work, you can format organized reports, tables and documents that look professionally formatted.

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