Pages and Microsoft Word: Beware of multiple tab stops

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft, Pages
February 9th, 2005 • 4:40 am

For some reason, when I export a Pages document as a Microsoft Word document and then open the exported document in Word, I see all kinds of manual tab stops in the ruler. More specifically, there is one manual tab stop at each centimeter.:

Pages to Word: Multiple tab stops

My settings in Pages are to have default tab stops every centimeter, but I didn’t insert any manual tab stops in Pages. So it looks like, when exporting a Pages document in Word format, Pages converts all its default (automatic) tab stops into manual tab stops.

This is unfortunate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a problem with Microsoft Word. After all, the exact same thing happens when I use MacLinkPlus Deluxe to translate WordPerfect for Windows documents into Microsoft Word documents. Here again, I get all kinds of manual tabs stops, even though the person who created the WordPerfect document probably never created these manual tab stops in WordPerfect.

It’s not a huge problem as far as I am concerned, but it is something that Pages users need to be aware of, because it can create all kinds of formatting problems when exporting in Word format.

For example, say that, while in Pages, you use the left indent icon to create a negative first line indent, like so:

Negative first line indent in Pages

If you then export the document in Microsoft Word format and open it in Word, here’s what you’ll get:

Negative first line indent in Word

As you can see, because of the manual tab stops inserted by Pages when exporting in Microsoft Word format, Word aligns the text after the tab character with the first tab from the left (at 1 cm) instead of aligning it with the left indent (at 4 cm).

In order to avoid this problem, there are several solutions. One of them is to simply remove all the manual tab stops in Word. But this won’t be convenient if you have created manual tab stops elsewhere in your document and you want Word to preserve those.

A more reliable solution is to add a manual tab stop while you are still in Pages, in exactly the same position as the left indent. It’s a tab stop that is effectively redundant (pressing the Tab key will get you to the left indent position anyway, even without a manual tab stop), but if you insert a manual tab stop in Pages, when exporting the document in Microsoft Word format, Pages will not add any other manual tab stops between the left margin and the manual tab stop in question.

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