Inserting Tab Leaders

Dear Computer Lady,

I’ve been a fan of your column since forever. I’ve checked the manuals I have for Word, but can’t find out how to do the “. . .” when you are typing a table of contents.

I’ve been doing it manually, but it’s taking me forever. HELP!! HELP!! HELP!!

Thanks for whatever you can do for me, Anna

Dear Anna,

This is a good question! Since I have not needed to make dotted lines (they are called tab leaders) in Word, I had to do a little bit of looking around. Here is what I found:

In Word 2007:

1. In your document, type the text before your dotted line.
2. In the ruler above the document, note the location for your tab stop.
3. Click the “Page Layout” tab, then the small arrow in the “Paragraph” section to open the “Paragraph” dialog box.
4. In the Paragraph dialog box, click the “Tab” button in the lower left hand corner to open the Tabs dialog box.
5. In the Tabs dialog box, type the location of your tab stop.
6. In the “Leader” section, click on the dotted line.
7. Click “OK” to save your changes and close the dialog box.
8. Now, in your document, after you type the text for the name of your chapter, press the Tab key and the leader will be inserted and you can type the page number.

Repeat step 8 for each line of text in your table of contents.

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In earlier versions of Word:

1. Click on “Format” in the menu bar.
2. Click on “Tabs”.
3. In the Tabs dialog box type the tab stop position where you want the second column to start. Look at the ruler at the top of the Word document to find the right position.
4. In the “Leader” section, click to select the dotted line.
5. Click the “OK” button to save your changes and close the dialog box.
6. In your document, type the text before the line, press the tab key and type your page number, then press enter to go to the next line.

Repeat step 6 for each line of text in your table of contents.

If you are using OpenOffice.org Writer:

1. In the ruler above your document, click the location where you want the second column to start.
2. Click on “Format” in the menu bar.
3. Click on “Paragraph…” in the menu.
4. Click on the “Tabs” tab in the Paragraph dialog box.
5. You should see the location you clicked on in the “Position” box.
6. In the “Fill character” section, click on the type of fill you want. (in your case it would be the second option)
7. Click the “OK” button to save your changes and close the dialog box.
8. Now, in your document, type the text, press the Tab key, and type your page number.

Repeat step 8 for each line of text in your table of contents.

I hope this helps you with your table of contents. Be sure to look around at the other options available for tab leaders as well.

Elizabeth

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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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Comments

    • Charlize
    • May 4, 2010

    Another suggestion would be to use the heading styles. They are made for this. When you place your cursor on a chapter title, you select the style you want to apply. Normally the 3rd bar from the top if you use the standard installation of Word. You can select your font from this bar. The option left from this, is the one for the styles. When you’ve got subtitles, you select heading 2 (and so on). Later on, you can create an index of your book by using Insert – Reference – Index and … (you better do this on an empty page). You can select how deep you want to go. Benefit is that the index is hyperlinked with your book. If you change a title, add some text to your chapters, you just rebuild the index and the pagenumbers, titles are changed accordingly.
    (Sorry for the possible mistakes in English – not native speaking)

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