How to Tab Within a Table in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, you’re working on a document in Word and you’ve come across a table that needs some adjusting. Specifically, you want to tab within a table, but every time you hit that tab key, it just jumps to the next cell. Frustrating, right? Don’t worry, it’s actually a straightforward process once you know the steps. In a nutshell, you’ll be using a different key combination to create that tab space within a table cell.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Tab Within a Table in Word

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve here. By following these steps, you’ll be able to insert a tab stop within a table cell in Microsoft Word, which will allow you to align text exactly where you want it.

Step 1: Place your cursor in the table cell

Click inside the cell where you want to insert the tab.

This is the starting point. Make sure your cursor is blinking where you want the tab to be.

Step 2: Press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’

While your cursor is in the cell, hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key and press ‘Tab’.

This is the key combination that inserts a tab stop within a table cell, instead of moving to the next cell.

Step 3: Release the keys

After pressing ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’, release both keys.

You should now see a tab space within your table cell.

After completing these steps, your text should be aligned how you want it within the table cell. This little trick can help you format your tables neatly without any hassle.

Tips for Tabbing Within a Table in Word

  • Remember, the standard ‘Tab’ key moves to the next cell, so always use ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ for within-cell tabs.
  • If you need to remove a tab stop, just use the backspace key.
  • You can also set custom tab stops on the ruler for even more control over text alignment in tables.
  • Consider using the ‘Show/Hide ¶’ function to see where the tabs are in your table.
  • Practice makes perfect. The more you use this function, the more natural it will become.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the regular tab key to tab within a table?

No, pressing the tab key will move you to the next cell in the table. Use ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ to insert a tab within a cell.

Can I set multiple tab stops within a single table cell?

Yes, you can set multiple tab stops within a cell by pressing ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ multiple times.

Will the ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ function work in any version of Word?

The ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ function works in most versions of Microsoft Word. However, if you’re using an older version and it’s not working, check Microsoft’s official support documentation for your specific version.

Can I align text using tab stops in a table?

Yes, tab stops can be used to align text within a table cell. You can set them manually using the ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ function or adjust them using the ruler.

Is there a limit to how many tab stops I can have in a cell?

There’s no specific limit, but too many tab stops might make your text hard to read and your table messy. Use them sparingly and only when needed.


  1. Place your cursor in the table cell.
  2. Press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’.
  3. Release the keys.


Tabbing within a table in Word might seem tricky at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Remembering to use the ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Tab’ key combination is the golden ticket here. With this knowledge, you can create well-organized, professional-looking tables that serve their purpose without a hitch.

Whether you’re working on an academic paper, a business report, or any document that requires precise formatting, mastering how to tab within a table in Word is a skill that will undoubtedly come in handy. And now that you’re armed with this information, why not share it with your friends or colleagues? You never know who else might be struggling with this seemingly small, yet significant, formatting issue.

So go ahead, open up that document, and start tabbing with confidence! And if you ever forget, just come back to this article for a quick refresher. Happy tabbing!

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