How to Use the Ruler in Microsoft Word

51459 How to Use the Ruler in Microsoft Word

The ruler in Microsoft Word is an indispensable yet often overlooked tool for precisely formatting Word documents. This handy guide will teach you how to display the ruler and use it to adjust margins, indents, tabs, and more with just a few clicks.

Display the Ruler in Microsoft Word

The first step is to make the ruler visible in your Word document:

  1. Go to the View tab on the ribbon
  2. Ensure Print Layout view is selected
  3. Check the box next to Ruler in the Show group

Once enabled, you will see a horizontal ruler appear above your document. A vertical ruler may also be shown along the left-hand side.

How to display the ruler in Word

Note: If your vertical ruler is missing, go to File > Options > Advanced and check “Show vertical ruler in Print Layout view” under Display.

You can now use the ruler to precisely format various elements of your document.

Use the Ruler to Adjust Page Margins

The margins in Word determine the printable area of text on a page. To change them:

  1. Hover over the boundary between the gray and white sections on the horizontal ruler
  2. When the cursor changes to a double-headed arrow, drag left/right to adjust margins
  3. Repeat on the vertical ruler to modify top/bottom margins

Using the ruler to change page margins in Word

Pro Tip: Hold the Alt key while dragging for more precise measurements.

Adjusting margins with the ruler enables accurate and consistent page layouts across your documents.

Use the Ruler to Set Indents

Indents control the position of text from the margins. The ruler makes it easy to indent paragraphs in Word.

To set a first-line indent:

  1. Click anywhere in the target paragraph
  2. Drag the top slider on the horizontal ruler to indent the first line

To create a hanging indent:

  1. Click anywhere in the target paragraph
  2. Drag the bottom slider to indent subsequent lines

Using the ruler to create indents in Word

The ruler allows consistent indents across paragraphs for a clean, professional document.

Use the Ruler to Add Custom Tabs

Tabs are special indent markers for precisely aligning text and objects. To add a tab stop:

  1. Select the tab alignment style at the left of the ruler
  2. Click on the ruler where you want the tab set
  3. Type content and press Tab to align text/objects

To remove a tab, simply drag it off the ruler.

Using the ruler to set custom tabs in Word

Tabs enable accurate alignment without counting spaces or using the space bar.

Customize the Ruler Units

By default, the ruler shows inches but you can change the units to centimeters or pixels:

  1. Go to File > Options > Advanced
  2. Under Display, choose the units from “Show measurements in units of”
  3. Click OK

Changing ruler units in Word options

Matching the ruler units to your project requirements keeps everything consistent.

Key Takeaways

  • Display the ruler from the View tab for precise formatting
  • Adjust page margins by dragging boundary lines
  • Set first-line and hanging indents using the slider bars
  • Add custom tab stops to align text and objects
  • Change ruler units from inches to centimeters or pixels

Learning to leverage the full power of the ruler can save you hours of formatting time. Use this guide to help you format Word documents faster and more consistently than ever before.

For more Word tips, check out my in-depth blog post on [insert relevant internal link]!

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