The tab key is evil! Do not use the tab key to indent your text!
How do you know if this is how your paragraphs are indented? The easiest way is to turn on the show/hide non-printing characters.
On the tool bar of your chosen word processing program there will be a symbol.
Here it is in Microsoft Word:
You can now see all the non-printing characters like spaces, paragraphs, and tabs. Here's an example:
Here is it in Open Office:
Here is it in Open Office:
And here's what you will see:
And here's how things look in Pages:
So, what's the problem?There are no devices or formats that I know of that support tabs. There are a few things that could happen to your tabs depending on what converter or format you use. In most cases they will simply disappear. The converter program/format/reader doesn't know what to do with tabs so they ignore them. In some instances I've seen tabs turn into spaces. Which, again, isn't ideal.
Oh no! I have tabs? What do I do?So, you've written your book, but you used tabs instead of paragraph styling. You don't want to go back through the whole document and remove the tabs one at a time. That would be far too time consuming. Luckily there is a way to use each program's 'find/replace' feature to remove all the tabs from your document.
Here's the process for Microsoft Word:
Go to the 'Edit' menu, then 'Find', then 'Advanced Find and Replace'
Go to 'Replace' and note the small downward pointing arrow in the bottom left corner.
You can either type in "^t" in the find field (without the quotes). Or you can click that small arrow to bring up more options. From there select the drop down menu that says 'Special', then select 'Tab Character'.
Leave the 'Replace' field empty and hit 'Replace All'. Now all your tabs should be gone!
Here's the process for Open Office:
Go to the 'Edit' menu, and select 'Find & Replace'.
Now select the 'More Options' button in the lower left corner.
Make sure that 'Regular expressions' is checked. In the 'Search for' field enter "\t" (without the quotes) and leave the 'Replace with' field blank.
Now hit 'Replace All' and all your tabs should now be gone.
Finally, here's the process in Pages:
Go to the 'Edit' menu, select 'Find', then select 'Find'.
Go to 'Advanced'. Beside the 'Find' field there is a drop down menu that says 'Insert', click that and select 'Tab'.
A tab character is inserted into the 'Find' field, leave the 'Replace' field blank. Now hit 'Replace All' and all your tabs should disappear!
But I still want my text indented! What should I do?Use paragraph styles! There are many different indent types that you can use. I find that a first line indent of between 0.2in - 0.33in looks best.
I will go through exactly how to add indents using paragraph styles with all three word processors (along with screencaps like I did in this post) in a future post.