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I cannot apply tabs...

Apr 20, 2012 4:27 AM

Tags: #cs5 #cs5.5 #indesign #tabs

So, I'm currently having an incredibly frustrating time with tabs in Indesign, in as much as I can't apply any new ones. I've been using InDesign for the best part of 5 years, have worked in publishing for a lot of that time, and never had this issue before. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong, but never day never!


Currently running CS5.5, I've tried trashing the preference, have uninstalled and reinstalled, and to no avail.


If I open up a file that already has tabs applied, I am still able to edit those, and make amends. However, if I place a new text box and attempt to align text using the Tabs tool in that, it will not work. I'm not sure if I'm making this clear enough, and not sure if this screen grab helps - but invisibles aren't showing the Tab icon.


Am I just being a moron? Any help would be greatly appreciated.



  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 20, 2012 4:41 AM   in reply to Secretly_Swedish

    I'm not seeing any tab characters in your screenshot.

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    Apr 20, 2012 5:49 AM   in reply to Secretly_Swedish

    You're mistaking the distinction between tab characters, and the tab stops you set in the Tab panel.


    BEFORE you open the Tab panel, you need to insert tab characters in the text which you want the Tab panel to format.


    Type, for example:


    Column 1 <tab> Column 2 <tab> Column 3 <return>


    When you select that text and open the Type panel, you'll see the Tab characters when invisibles are showing. Those Tab characters are when are acted on by setting the Tab stops in the Tabs panel.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 20, 2012 6:12 AM   in reply to Secretly_Swedish

    You must either manually insert the tab characters, or you will see them already if you import text from another source like Microsoft Word or Excel.


    For Word, if there were tabs already in the Word file, they would be imported into InDesign.


    For Excel, you would save the Excel spreadsheet as tab-delimited text. It would import the information in the format:


    Text <tab> text < tab> text <return>

    Text <tab> text < tab> text <return>


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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 20, 2012 7:47 AM   in reply to Secretly_Swedish

    Secretly_Swedish wrote:


    Right, I've got it sorted - Thanks! I missed the "To insert a tab character in a table, choose Type > Insert Special Character > Other > Tab." instructions! I have it working now. Thanks for the help. I obviously need to refresh my head with this stuff.

    Option+Tab on Mac inserts a tab character in the current table cell. Not sure about Windows, as Alt+Tab switches among running applications.


    As to what's meant by "tab" or "Tab" in much documentation, Adobe and others, it's often left to the reader to supply the context the correct meaning - tab character or tab stop. Writers who practice this kind of loose behavior deserve a few days in detention for each confusion.











    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

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