Using the Ruler in Word and showing paragraph marks

Although some people use the space bar to format their documents, things rarely line up correctly. Whilst this may be okay for informal documents, if you are creating professional documents like reports and brochures, you will want to make sure that your formatting is spot on.

The best way to format your documents and ensure preciseness is to use the ruler in Word. It will save you no end of time and make your documents much easier to edit.

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Viewing the ruler

If you don’t already have the ruler visible in Word you will need to:

  • Click on View at the top of the screen
  • Click on Ruler

The horizontal ruler will then appear at the top of your document and the vertical ruler will appear down the left hand side.

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Changing Document Margins

Now your rulers are showing, you can get to work on changing your document margins.

To alter your left margin:

  • Move your mouse curser between the two triangles on the horizontal ruler (separating the blue and the white sections)
  • Your cursor will change to a double-headed arrow
  • Simply drag left or right to change the document’s left margin
  • Release the mouse button to set the margin in place and your text will move accordingly

To alter your right margin:

  • Move your mouse curser onto the right triangle of the horizontal ruler
  • The double-headed arrow will appear
  • Drag and release to change the right margin

To alter the top margin:

  • Move your mouse onto the top of the vertical ruler (between the blue and white sections)
  • The cursor will change to a double-arrow
  • Drag up or down and release to change the top margin

To alter the bottom margin

  • Move your mouse onto the bottom of the vertical ruler (between the blue and white sections)
  • The cursor will change to a double-arrow
  • Drag up or down and release to change the bottom margin

 If you are using windows no double headed arrow appears in windows and it grey and white not blue and white.

 How to set tabs

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 If you want to set tabs in your Word document you will need to:

  • Click on the Tab Style button between the vertical ruler and the ribbon (highlighted in red)
  • Here you can set left, right, centre or bar tabs to your preferences
  • Click on the horizontal ruler and a tab stop will appear
  • Continue to click on the horizontal ruler to add more tab stops
  • Delete unwanted tab stops by clicking on the tab with your mouse and dragging it back to the Tab Styles button.

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Showing paragraph marks

Paragraph marks are also referred to as paragraph indents in Word. Microsoft Word can create three types of paragraph marks.

  1. A normal indent (where the paragraph is indented on both sides)
  2. A first-line indent (where the first line is moved inwards)
  3. A hanging indent (where the first line is flush to the left and the rest of the paragraph appears under the first line)

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 To create a paragraph mark:

  • Click at the beginning of the paragraph you want to indent
  • Move your mouse cursor to the two triangles on the horizontal ruler
  • The top triangle will represent the first line of your paragraph
  • The bottom triangle will represent the left indent of your paragraph
  • Move the triangles together to create a normal indent
  • Drag the bottom triangle to make a first-line indent
  • Drag the top triangle to the left to create hanging indent

The ruler triangles have been highlighted in red on the screenshot above. Have a play around and see which paragraph mark looks best for your document.

 Could you do with a little extra help in the formatting department? We offer a range of Microsoft Word courses that cover formatting in greater detail.

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