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It is important to understand the difference between using tabs and spaces to format documents. On an old manual typewriter, each character takes up the same space. The letter "i" takes up the same space across the page as the letter "w" would. On your computer, through the use of fonts, characters on the screen are more professionally spaced, the way that they would appear in a book or magazine. This is referred to as proportional spacing. This means that letters are automatically spaced on a page in proportion to the particular character. Therefore, an "i" gets less horizontal space than a "w" would. Take a close look at the word shown below and notice that each character gets a different amount of space.
 
It is important to understand the difference between using tabs and spaces to format documents. On an old manual typewriter, each character takes up the same space. The letter "i" takes up the same space across the page as the letter "w" would. On your computer, through the use of fonts, characters on the screen are more professionally spaced, the way that they would appear in a book or magazine. This is referred to as proportional spacing. This means that letters are automatically spaced on a page in proportion to the particular character. Therefore, an "i" gets less horizontal space than a "w" would. Take a close look at the word shown below and notice that each character gets a different amount of space.
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If you used spaces to align text blocks typed in the same typeface, things might look close-to-aligned using spaces on the screen, but when they print, they'll be out of alignment. (See Figure 3.) How does this relate to tabs? Well, if you use spaces to format a page, the spaces won't be equal to a particular number of characters. Five spaces doesn't automatically equal five characters because the characters are different widths. Also, because of variation in font size and style, changing the font may not improve alignment. Therefore, if you want to align something on a page, use tabs or the alignment tools, not spaces typed with the space bar. Tabs are a fixed distance from the margin and the alignment tools format the text as a block, regardless of the font. (See Figure 3a.)
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If you used spaces to align text blocks typed in the same typeface, things might look close-to-aligned using spaces on the screen, but when they print, they'll be out of alignment. How does this relate to tabs? Well, if you use spaces to format a page, the spaces won't be equal to a particular number of characters. Five spaces doesn't automatically equal five characters because the characters are different widths. Also, because of variation in font size and style, changing the font may not improve alignment. Therefore, if you want to align something on a page, use tabs or the alignment tools, not spaces typed with the space bar. Tabs are a fixed distance from the margin and the alignment tools format the text as a block, regardless of the font.
    
As with most things, there are exceptions to this. Two standard fonts, Courier and Monaco, ship with the Macintosh computer. They are what is known as monospaced fonts. They behave exactly like text produced on a typewriter. Each character is exactly the same width. A space is exactly the same width as one character. Here's the same word we used earlier displayed this time in the Courier font. Notice how each character takes up the same amount of horizontal space.
 
As with most things, there are exceptions to this. Two standard fonts, Courier and Monaco, ship with the Macintosh computer. They are what is known as monospaced fonts. They behave exactly like text produced on a typewriter. Each character is exactly the same width. A space is exactly the same width as one character. Here's the same word we used earlier displayed this time in the Courier font. Notice how each character takes up the same amount of horizontal space.

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