Punctuation: Tabs instead of spaces

March 13, 2008: Issue 230

Please use tabs, not spaces, to set indents, to define spaces after bullets or numbers, or to line up columns. Here’s why:

Precision In justified type, a space width varies from line to line. A tab hits the right mark every time.

Consistency You might go to great pains to type in just the right number of spaces to make type line up, but any change—as tiny as a hyphen or comma—throws everything off. A tab is unaffected.

Transition Even with formatting cleared, tabs carry over from Microsoft Word to InDesign, and a designer can quickly set the appropriate positions. Multiple spaces just make a mess.

Ease Ruler palettes in both MS Word and InDesign provide a simple, visual-driven way to set tabs. You don’t have to do any math or type in any numbers. Find quick tutorials on tabs for MS Word and InDesign.

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