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How to Type or Insert a Tab in a Table in InDesign CS3, CS4 and CS5

Updated on July 3, 2011

I had to use tables in InDesign at work when I discovered typing a tab in a table cell is not as simple as pressing the tab key. Huh???

Inserting a table in InDesign is easy but just how on earth do you then type a tab in a cell of a table? The cursor hops over to the next cell when I pressed the tab key. It was rather frustrating as the result was not what I was after.

Well, here is tip on a part of InDesign that does not seem to have much attention on, but am fortunate enough to discover it through networking. Once again, it is really simple now that I know it!

To insert a tab inside a table cell


Press Option-Tab (Yeah, it's that simple)


Alt-Tab is default for you to flip through all of your opened programs. So in order to insert a tab inside a table cell, simply go to Type > Insert Special Character > Other > Tab.

Type   Insert Special Character   Other   Tab
Type Insert Special Character Other Tab
Edit   Keyboard Shortcuts
Edit Keyboard Shortcuts

Assign a Keyboard Shortcut

The alternative is to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. Go then to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. When a window pops out, go to Product Area and select Type Menu. In the Commands area, select Insert Special Character:Other:Tab.

Type Menu   Insert Special Character:
Type Menu Insert Special Character:

Note that “Tab” has been already made as the default keyboard shortcut but this only works when in a text frame.

Context: Default
Context: Default

To add another keyboard shortcut for inserting a tab inside a table cell, select “Table” from the Context pop-up menu. Assign Ctrl+Tab as a new shortcut. So whenever I am looking to add a tab inside a cell in the PC platform, all I do is press Control-Tab.

New keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Tab
New keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Tab

That is all there is to it. A quick and easy way of inserting tabs into table cells in InDesign.

Adobe InDesign is a software application produced by Adobe Systems that is used by professional Graphic Designers and Production Artists. It is often used for creating and laying out artwork for projects such as catalogue, books, posters, magazines, newpaper, flyers and brochures.

This step-by-step Adobe InDesign tutorial is intended for beginners.

For more tutorials to little known secrets to InDesign or Illustrator, please go to
Little Known Secrets to Adobe InDesign
Little Known Secrets to Adobe Illustrator

You are welcome to print, share or link to this tutorial; however, please refrain from publishing by copying and pasting onto your site, forums, etc. If you have found this article helpful, please leave a comment or suggestions to other topics you might like to see written.


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    • May PL profile imageAUTHOR

      May PL 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Thanks, Dobster1. Typing a tab in a table in InDesign is not a commonly used thing but for those who need it and do not know how to go about it, it is now out there to be googled. For Word or other spreadsheet program, perhaps it is in the combination of keystrokes, eg. Ctrl + Tab, Ctrl + Alt,etc?

    • dobster1 profile image


      7 years ago

      I think I have struggled with this on another occasion in a spreadsheet or was it a Word table?

      Good tip!


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