Fixing tab errors when formatting an ebook

When formatting an ebook in Microsoft Word, one problem a number of authors run into is a “tab” error. In the case of Kindle ebooks, this usually means an unsightly, extra space or two before a heading or a paragraph. In the case of other ebook formats, especially if uploading them through Smashwords, this usually means not being included in their premium catalogs until the “problem” is correcting.

Fortunately, fixing tab errors is simple enough:
• In the command ribbon at the top of your document, look for the section labeled “Paragraph”. To the right of that word should be an arrow pointing southeast. Click that arrow.
• A window will open on your screen. In the lower left-hand corner of the screen, click “Tabs”.
• A new window will open. In the lower right-hand corner, click “Clear All” then “OK”.
All the tabs in your manuscript will disappear.

That may create a new problem for you, however: If you formatted your ebook so that each new paragraph was indented, all of the indents just disappeared. You’ll have to go back and add a blank line (aka a paragraph return) between each paragraph – which is how Smashwords anyways wants you to format your text anyway.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.