How to Show the Ruler in Word

Use it to adjust margins, tabs, and more

How to show the Ruler in Microsoft Word

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Word has a ruler feature that enables you to do reasonably accurate layout work right within a Word document. The Microsoft Word ruler is useful for creating resumes, cover letters, forms, brochures, and other documents where it matters where and how big type or graphics elements are.

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.

What Can the Microsoft Word Ruler Do?

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.

You can also place and alter margins and tabs with the ruler simply by dragging them on the ruler.

How to Get 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 View > Print Layout selected?

    Make sure you select the print layout
  2. Select the Ruler checkbox. In the Ribbon, it's located at the top of the column that also contains Gridlines and Navigation Pain.

    Tick the ruler check box
  3. The ruler will appear above your document, as well as vertically on the left side in the Print Layout.

    The ruler is displayed horizontally and vertically in the Print layout
  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.

    You can see margins and tabs on Word's ruler
  5. If you want to turn the ruler off, uncheck the Ruler checkbox.

    Untick the ruler check box to turn the ruler off

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 View > Draft.

    Select the draft layout
  2. Select the Ruler checkbox on the Ribbon. It's in the same column on the ribbon as Gridlines and Navigation Pane.

    Tick the Ruler check box in Draft View in Word

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. 

    Change the margin using the ruler
  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 on the ruler to change your 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.

    Create a tab using the ruler 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.