Learn how to design the perfect custom tab set for your project.


What we like to call "the basics", are the foundation of your tab set. While simple, the basics will directly effect how your final document operates, looks, and feels.

Tab Orientation & Sheet Size

The tabs in your tab set can be oriented along the right side or the bottom of the page. In most cases the option you choose will be based on how your final document will be bound. If your custom tab dividers will be in a standard binder, you'll probably want side tabs. In this case the document will flip and open like a book. If your document will be hinged on the top, then bottom tabs will be your best bet.

Also related to the overall structure of your final document, is the sheet size. Your tab set can be made into a letter or legal size sheet. Choose the sheet size that matches the documents that will be filed with your tabs. Letter size is the most common choice with a dimension of 8.5" x 11". A legal size sheet will measure 8.5" x 14". The tab will extend another 1/2" beyond the dimensions just provided. This is what we call the tab extension. A 1/2" extension is the standard and most binders and report covers will be sized to accommodate this extension (although you may want to check, as this is not always the case).

Paper Weight & Color

Selecting the best paper for your custom index tabs is an important choice. This will determine how your document feels in the hand. The paper weight refers to the thickness of the paper and is measured in pounds. The higher the poundage, the thicker the paper. We offer a 90 pound, the most popular choice, and a 110 pound option. For reference, standard copy paper is usually 20 pound paper. If you're familiar with legal tabs, standard legal tabs are printed on 80 pound paper.

Your second choice that relates to the look and feel of your document is the paper color. We offer both white and ivory.


Before we dive in any further let's examine the anatomy of a tab. This will help keep is on the same page as we evaluate the next set of options

Tab Cut

While tab extension refers to the distance the tab "extends" from the edge of the page the tab cut refers to its length. In simple terms the cut establishes the number of tabs visible along the edge of the page. For example, let's say you were designing your custom tab dividers and choose a 1/5 cut tab. This means that regardless of whether you choose a side or bottom orientation, you will be able to to see 5 tabs along the edge of the page. Chose a 1/10 cut instead? Now you'll see 10 tabs across the edge of the page and they'll be half as long as the 1/5 tabs. Checkout this handy tab cut chart for the exact dimensions of each tab cut.

custom tab divider anatomy

Tab Position

Each tab in your set holds a position. The position denotes where on the sheet a specific tab lives, in relation to the other tabs in the set. The number of positions in your tab set will be determined by the tab cut. Again, lets say you selected a 1/5 cut tab. You would have 5 positions in your set. Select a 1/10 cut, and your set would contain 10 positions. Pick and choose which positions you'd like in your set. This is where you can begin to truly tailor the tab dividers to your specific need.