What Are Default Tabs?
The default tabs are the ones that you use if you simply press the Tab key. They are marked on the ruler as small upside down Ts. Whenever you press the Tab key and your cursor is in your text, you move along the cursor as far as one more of the default tabs. The default tabs in the following illustration are every half inch on the ruler.
The tab key indicators in the text look like arrows when you choose View > Nonprinting Characters, as shown below. See that there are tab markers on the ruler to show where pressing Tab takes you, and tab key indicators in the text to show where you have actually pressed Tab. You can delete them if you want to get rid of them.
Before we continue, note that the info for Rachel and Bob above starts at the 2" mark.
It’s MUCH better to specify tabs yourself, though.
Why It’s Better to Create Your Own Tabs
This is better for several reasons. One is that you can position the tab exactly where you want it, and you only have to press Tab once.
You can also easily change the position of the tabbed text just by selecting all the tabbed text, then dragging the tab mark to another location. In the illustration below, the tab has been dragged from approximately 1 7/8 to 1 5/8, or whatever. Note where the cursor is on the ruler. (I also deleted all the extra tab indicators from the text, because I only need one.)
A primary reason for creating your own tabs, relating to document conversion, is that default tab settings are specific not just to the application, but to the user. Each application, like Word or Writer, might have the default tabs set to different increments, and you can set yours differently than your co-workers. If the default tabs are .25 inches apart in Word, but .5 inches apart in Writer, then your document will look a lot different when you open it in Writer. Your document using default tabs also might look quite differently to you than to your boss. And even switching between Writer and Writer might cause problems if you've set your default tabs differently.
You can change the default tab settings in Writer under Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer > General. However, it’s best to set the tabs where you want them in the original document. Then when you open the document in the other text-editing application, there are no tab-related corrections to make.
Creating Your Own Tabs
Select at least part of EVERY line that should have that tab. Then click on the ruler, in Writer, and drag the tab mark that appears to wherever you want it. The tabs you create are slightly larger, as shown.
Then when you press Tab once, your cursor will go all the way to that mark, disregarding any default tabs to the left of it.
To change the tab position, again select ALL the text (at least part of every line) that has that tab marker, then click and hold down on the tab marker on the ruler, and drag it. The text will follow.
You can also define tabs by selecting the paragraph(s) that need tabs and choosing Format > Paragraph, Tabs tab.