Algonquin College Graphic Design Program Computer Graphics Course Curriculum Algonquin College Graphic Design Program Computer Graphics Course Curriculum

Tabs & Indents

Apps Used: Adobe InDesign

The all-mighty tab character can do wonders in InDesign. We'll explore setting indented text and building grids with tabs and indents, too.

This is a formative assignment

That means that you'll be learning and practising new software skills. This assignment contributes to your final grade in the course. This work will be graded as either:

Complete Incomplete

If needed, I will provide written feedback on your performance.



Tabs are flexible spaces used within blocks of text, not at their edges.

Since a tab is a flexible space, there's no need to use more than one at a time.
Avoid using more than one tab character.

Rather than hitting the Tab key repeatedly, just use one, then set its width in the Tabs ruler.

Tables Built with Tabs

If you type Tab characters at the right places in the text, you can build tables with nicely-spaced columns.

Table built with Tabs.
This is a table built with tabs.

Fancy Tabs

A leader is a character that repeats itself where the tab character is.

Above, I’ve typed a Space character, then a period in the Tab panel’s Leader field. You see that the periods repeat as long as the tab is. I’ve made them lime green by applying a character style to the tab.

You can also do fancy stuff like lining up a specific character to a tab.

See how you can align a on a specific character with a tab.

In the text above, the dollar amounts all line up on the decimal mark. This makes rows of money values much easier to read. You can actually align a tab with any character, using the Align On field in the Tabs panel. On the right, all the @ symbols line up.


Tabs and indents are useful for setting spacing in blocks or lines of type. It’s important to know when to use which.

Indent settings are meant to be used along margins.
Left indents move the text away from the margin. Negative indents make the text hang.

Indent settings are used to push text away from the margins. You can push the whole paragraph away from the margin, or you can do fun stuff as shown above. You can enter negative values to make text hang.

I’ve seldom found a use for right indents on paragraphs. It happens, but rarely.

Formative Activity

You’ll complete a single-page layout for a Mac Mini. The sheet has indented text and bullet lists.

This is what your page should look like, with the included paragraph styles.

Consult the provided PDF file to guide the construction of the page layout.

Supplemental Links

What you'll submit:


Make sure your InDesign document is named LastName-FirstName-#-Assignment-Name. # is your group number So,

Appleseed-Johnny-1-Tabs & Indents.indd

Check your font usage to only include Adobe Fonts. To do so, go Type > Find Fonts . There should only be Adobe Fonts in the list.

Check your image usage in the Links panel. Make sure there are no warning icons in the panel.

Once this is done, save your document, then package it using File > Package . The resulting folder will already be named properly. Zip-compress the folder by right-clicking on it, then choosing Compress... .

Appleseed-Johnny-#-Tabs &

Failure to submit your files as directed will incur a proportional loss of points. If your file/folder is not named with your name, you will earn a zero. Why?