Incoorporate Tabs in the calculation. Then use a merge field for the display. In Layout mode you can set the tabs.
that pretty much did the trick. I actually applied that same technique to a field instead of the merge field and it worked there as well after a bit of fussing with it. As usual, FileMaker has a less programmatic way of implementing something done with programming elsewhere. Would be nice to have LPad and RPad implemented though...