In Google Docs, Wordpad, and Writer (for open office), tabs are being "forgotten" or haphazardly "inserted" where other tabs are. I don't think this issue is local to a particular program or file format because in all of the programs I used, I had different formats corresponding to their native file types (Google docs is .gdoc, for example). I also have this occurring with multiple documents. I originally got this issue without tab stops and I have replicated it in files with tab stops, like the ones in the screenshot. The issue was exhibited after re-opening files and not directly after saving them. The issue is exhibited in both converted file formats and original file formats.

This is what the issue looks like: Picture showing extra tabs and lost tabs between different file mediums

I've tried all of the generic solutions (restarting the computer, opening/closing various things with task manager, etc.) without effect. Since I know formatting issues can be derived from the type of computer being used and its specs, I have Windows 7 Ultimate (SP1) with an nvidia graphics card on a HP Pavilion pc.

Here is one such file: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12UciH36hJCFQMmbBTBaybxRlcL6946NQcCZCVwOvpwY/edit?usp=sharing. Try editing and saving it after making tabs even, then exit and re-open it and it will probably look messed up (those wildly uneven columns were even when I uploaded it, too).


This is why word processors shouldn't be used for tables (unless you're actually inserting a table, but even then). The problem is that the tab size is a little bit different in all these different programs, and when you switch from one to the other, problems can occur.

For example, you create a "table" with columns, and each column is separated by two tabs. It's all fine, although there is one entry that was a bit longer than the rest. When you switch to a different word processor, the tabs are a little bit shorter, and that long entry pushes into the next tab zone. So now that row is offset, and to correct it you need to either delete one of the two tabs or add tabs to the rest of the rows.

Solution: Use a spreadsheet editor (Excel, Google Spreadsheet, whatever). Or insert a table into your document.

Best of luck!

  • Thank you for the solution using tables. However, the problem persists within the same programs without being converted to other formats or viewed from other programs. For example, I could open one of my documents in wordpad, close it, and open it in wordpad to find that the tabs have been affected. – person27 Aug 13 '14 at 4:28
  • I have a question then: is the number of tabs actually changing? I doubt it is, but for some reason the formatting is resetting tab positions or font or something strange. This would cause the same symptoms as above. – Nate Aug 13 '14 at 4:30
  • yes, the tabs are completely deleted and in some cases, spontaneously created; i.e. you cannot highlight them because they no longer exist. Actually, it seems like Newton's third law is in play here and when a tab goes missing, it shows up somewhere else, usually within the same line but on the other side of a word, for example. – person27 Aug 13 '14 at 5:03
  • Well I opened your doc and edited the tabbing. It saved just fine. I guess your computer is haunted? – Nate Aug 13 '14 at 5:21
  • out of curiosity, was the tabbing messed up when you opened the file (I saved it knowing the first table was quite visibly misaligned and it might point to computer configuration if you saw it as being neat) – person27 Aug 13 '14 at 5:44

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.