Use tabs in Microsoft Word for alignment – not multiple spaces

A space bar is for a space. Maybe 2 spaces. But stop right there.

Tabs = quick, fixed and accurate alignment.
Spaces are cumbersome and inaccurate.

Image © Microsoft Word

Image © Microsoft Word

A major part of my work is formatting reports and long documents in Adobe InDesign and many of the Word report documents I receive contain paragraph indents or table alignments set up with multiple sequences of spaces.

This adds a lot of work to the formatting as each incidence must be searched for and replaced with a tab or an indent. If you set the Word document up using tabs for alignment, I can use your tabs to control the text in InDesign and that may reduce the formatting costs of the finished report.

This video by Professor Marshall Jones demonstrates perfectly why spaces don’t work as well as tabs. Take a couple of minutes and have a look:

Microsoft have plenty of information about tab stops here:

Using tabs not spaces is a good habit you need to develop if you prepare text for reports. At first it will be slightly cumbersome but after a few shots at it you will realise you have far greater control over your text with a tab.