While you may not realize it, we all use the number of characters in a number to determine just how big or small it is. For example 1000000 written like this is harder to determine the magnitude of than 1,000,000. So when you want your users to be able to understand the numbers that you are working with not only is it handy to use commas to separate the digits but aligning the numbers using their decimal points allows a quick check of how big a number is by how far it extends towards the left hand side of the page.

When you are working in a table of figures Word provides a simple way of aligning numbers. Select the column in your table and from the Ruler bar (View, Ruler) click on the tab indicator in the top left corner by the ruler, until you see the Decimal tab option appear. When the Decimal tab indicator shows, click on the ruler where you want the decimal tab to appear in the column of numbers.
Now when you type a number into that column it will be automatically aligned on the decimal tab and there’s no need to insert an actual tab character. Of course if you do want to include a tab character remember that you must hit Ctrl + Tab in a table because the Tab key simply moves you from one cell to the next and doesn’t actually add a tab character.

Helen Bradley