How to Show the Ruler in Word

Use it to adjust margins, tabs, and more

What to Know

  • In Print Layout: On the View tab, select Print Layout. Choose the Ruler check box to display the rulers.
  • In Draft Layout: On the View tab, select Draft. Choose the Ruler check box to display the rulers.
  • With the rulers enabled in the print or draft layout, you can change the margins and tabs.

This article explains how to display the ruler in Microsoft Word—and how to use the ruler to change margins and create tabs.

How to Show the Ruler in Word

Word has a ruler feature that enables you to do reasonably accurate layout work right within a Word document. If you want to set a tab, or see how big your text box or headline will be when you print a document, you can use the ruler to measure where on the page you want those elements to fall and see how big they will be when printed.

If you don’t see the ruler while working on a document, it's probably turned off. Here's how to show the ruler in Word.

  1. If you want a ruler that appears horizontally and vertically, first make sure you're working in the Print Layout view. With your document open, select Print Layout on the View tab.

    The Print Layout section on the View tab
  2. Select the Ruler check box. In the Ribbon, it's located at the top of the column that also contains Gridlines and Navigation Pain.

    The Ruler checkbox in Word
  3. The ruler will appear above your document, as well as vertically on the left side in the Print Layout.

    The Rulers in Word
  4. With the rule enabled, you can use tabs and margins, measure the size and placement of text boxes, and more in the Print Layout view.

  5. To turn the ruler off, uncheck the Ruler check box.

How to Display the Microsoft Ruler in the Draft Layout in Word

If you prefer to work in the Draft layout, rather than the Print layout, the ruler works similarly in that view. While the ruler will not appear along the vertical margin of your document in the Draft layout, it will display along the top. It works much the same way as it does in the Print layout.

  1. First make sure your document is open and you're looking at it in the Draft view. To do this, Select Draft on the View tab.

    The Draft option on the View tab
  2. Select the Ruler check box on the Ribbon. It's in the same column on the ribbon as Gridlines and Navigation Pane.

    The Ruler checkbox in Draft mode

How to Use the Microsoft Word Ruler

With the Ruler is enabled in either the Print Layout or in the Draft Layout, you can use it to change the margins and tabs, or to see the size and placement of graphic or type elements.

Using the Ruler to Change the Margins

  1. Hover the mouse over the double tab at the left margin. Your mouse will turn to a double arrow and “Left Margin” will display as hover text. The part of the document outside the margin — the the left — is shaded grey.

  2. Select and drag the left margin icon to increase your left margin. 

    Drag the margin icon to change the margin
  3. On the right end of the ruler is the right margin. Hover your mouse over it until your mouse turns into a two-way arrow with "Right Margin" appearing over it.

  4. Select and drag the right margin icon to see how it changes your right margin.

    Drag the right margin

How to Create a Tab Using the Ruler

  1. Place your cursor on the line where you want to place the tab.

  2. Select the ruler in the spot where you want the tab. This will create a small corner-shaped icon representing your tab.

    A ruler tab in Word
  3. Press the Tab key to place a tab in your document, then drag along to ruler to change the tab's placement.

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