Tab not available from Format Paragraph

I want to add a Tab to a number of paragraphs but when I select the paragraphs and double click the ruler nothing happens. If I choose Format Paragraph no Tab option is available. This does not correspond to the Online Help. The document I’m editing is a Microsoft docx document so the question perhaps should be “How do I edit tabs in a docx document?”

Save format does not impose any restrictions on the possibility to insert tab stops. It may limit which kinds of tab stop may be saved (which you are then warned about when saving, and the issue shows up next time you load the document).

I don’t think that docx format imposes any limitations in this respect.

Probable cause

If you select multiple paragraphs which have different styles applied, you can’t always add tab stops across all of them. The Tabulators tab will not be present in those cases. I have seen this when a paragraph with Heading x style is inside the selection.


When you load a Word file in Writer, some formatting will cause autogeneration and -application of paragraph styles. Those styles will show up as “Convert x” in the styles list. This may be the styles which are blocking your tabulator insertion.


  1. Adding the tab stops to a paragraph style is the preferred way to go. You may need to create new styles to cater for different tab setups.
  2. If you don’t want to use styles, select smaller sections of your document (chapter at a time).

Best practice

Save the working copy of your Writer documents as odt files. Only save to other formats when you are required to do so, for sharing/submitting. This avoids the conversion which causes automated style generation, and other mess which is generated whenever you cross over between Word and Writer context.

This inherent problem is not anybody’s fault, just a natural consequence of the structural difference between Word and its documents vs Writer and its documents.

Thank you very much Keme (I travelled to Oslo several times on business in the 1990s).

You are welcome. If you were helped by the answer, consider clicking the “tick bullet”. This tags the entry as solved on the front page, which may be useful for helpers (who will then see that the issue doesn’t need attention) and seekers with similar issues (who can see that “here is something which works”).

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