Tabs

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You use the Tabs panel (Window > Type > Tabs) to set tab stops for a paragraph or type object. For more information on using and setting tabs, see web Help.

Tabs panel overview

You use the Tabs panel (Window > Type > Tabs) to set tab stops for a paragraph or type object.

Tabs panel
Tabs panel

A. Tab alignment buttons B. Tab position C. Tab leader box D. Align On box E. Panel menu F. Tab ruler G. Snap panel above frame 

You can access additional commands and options in the Tabs panel menu. To use this menu, click the triangle in the upper right corner of the panel.

Align the Tabs panel with a selected type object

You can position the Tabs panel anywhere in the work area; however, it is usually helpful to align the Tabs panel with a type object.

  1. Click the magnet icon  . The Tabs panel moves directly above the selected text object, with the zero point aligned with the left margin. If necessary, you can drag the resize button at the lower right corner of the panel to expand or reduce the ruler.

Snap tab stops to the ruler units

By default, you can position tab stops anywhere along the tab ruler.

  1. Choose Snap To Unit from the panel menu or hold down Shift as you drag a tab stop.

Change the units of measure for the tab ruler

The units of measure for the tab ruler are defined by the General units settings specified in the Units preferences (for all files) or by the units specified in the Document Setupdialog box (for the current file).

  • To change the units of measure for all files, specify a new value for General Units in the Units preferences.
  • To change the units of measure for the current file, specify a new units value in the Document Setup dialog box.

Set tabs

Tab stops apply to an entire paragraph. When you set the first tab, Illustrator deletes all default tab stops to the left of that stop. As you set more tab stops, Illustrator deletes all default tabs between the tabs you set.

  1. Insert the cursor in a paragraph, or select a type object to set tab stops for all paragraphs in the object.
  2. In the Tabs panel, click a tab-alignment button to specify how text aligns relative to the tab’s position:

    Left-Justified Tab

    to align horizontal text to the left, keeping the right margin ragged.

    Center-Justified Tab

    to center text on the tab mark.

    Right-Justified Tab

    to align horizontal text to the right, keeping the left margin ragged.

    Bottom-Justified Tab

    to align vertical text to the bottom margin, keeping the top margin ragged.

    Top-Justified Tab

    to align vertical text to the top margin, keeping the bottom margin ragged.

    Decimal-Justified Tab

    to place text in alignment with a specified character, such as a period or a dollar sign. This option is useful for creating columns of numbers.

    You can change the alignment of any tab by simply selecting it and clicking one of these buttons.

  3. Do one of the following:
    • Click a location on the tab ruler to position a new tab stop.

    • Type a position in the X box (for horizontal text) or Y box (for vertical text), and press Enter or Return. If the X or Y value is selected, press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key to increase or decrease the tab value by 1 point, respectively.

      note: When you use the tab ruler, you cannot set tab stops in increments smaller than 1. However, if you specify a position in the X or Y box, you can set stops at intervals as small as 0.01 point.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to add additional tab stops.
Note:

For information on setting indents using the Tabs panel, see Indent text.

Repeat tabs

The Repeat Tab command creates multiple tabs based on the distance between the tab and the left indent or the previous tab stop.

  1. Click an insertion point in the paragraph.
  2. In the Tabs panel, select a tab stop on the ruler.
  3. Choose Repeat Tab from the panel menu.
    Repeated tabs
    Repeated tabs

    A. Tab-alignment buttons B. Tab stop on the ruler C. Panel menu 

Move tabs

  1. In the Tabs panel, select a tab stop on the ruler.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Type a new location in the X box (for horizontal text) or Y box (for vertical text), and press Enter or Return.

    • Drag the tab to a new location.

    • To move all tab stops simultaneously, Ctrl‑drag (Windows) or Command‑drag (Mac OS) a tab.

      As you move a tab stop, a visual guide appears in the selected text.

Remove tabs

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Drag the tab off the tab ruler.

    • Select the tab, and choose Delete Tab from the panel menu.

    • To return to the default tab stops, choose Clear All from the panel menu.

Specify characters for decimal tabs

You use decimal tabs to align text with a character you specify, such as a period or a dollar sign.

  1. In the Tabs panel, create or select a decimal tab  on the tab ruler.
  2. In the Align On box, type the character to which you want to align. You can type or paste any character. Make sure that the paragraphs you’re aligning contain that character.
    Text aligned using a decimal tab
    Text aligned using a decimal tab

Add tab leaders

A tab leader is a repeated pattern of characters, such as a series of dots or dashes, between a tab and the following text.

  1. In the Tabs panel, select a tab stop on the ruler.
  2. Type a pattern of as many as eight characters in the Leader box, and then press Enter or Return. The characters you entered repeat across the width of the tab.
  3. To change the font or other formatting of the tab leader, select the tab character in the text frame, and use the Character panel or Type menu to apply formatting.
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