Have you ever seen a spreadsheet or used Excel? If so, then you are familiar with the concept of tables. Tables are, after all, just that – tables! They are simply a grid arranged into columns and rows. We use them to organize and group certain pieces of information. But even more importantly, we use tables to do complex layout operations, some of which can rival publishing programs such as Adobe InDesign!
This will be an in depth tutorial teaching you the basics and more about Tables, so feel free to open Word and follow along!
Before I start to identify the different parts of a table, I would like you to go ahead and insert a table in your document. Follow the steps below to do so:
Click on the Insert tab of your ribbon.
Click the Table icon.
Insert Table will appear:
Note the cells (little boxes) at the top.
This is one of the easiest methods to insert a table in your document. Simply drag your cursor over the rows and columns until you have the amount needed for your table.
As you can see, I have dragged my cursor to make a table that has seven columns and three rows. As you can also see, that measurement is noted at the top where you have selected your cells.
As you drag your cursor, your table will appear in your document.
Just click to insert the table into your document.
You now have a basic table in your document. So now, let’s identify the parts of your table.
Each box that you see in your table is called a Cell. there are 21 cells in the table we created above. You can see in the screenshot below that one cell has been highlighted.
The Rows in your table go from top to bottom horizontally across your screen. There are three rows in the screenshot above.
Columns go from left to right and are vertical. There are seven columns in the screenshot above.
Now that you have identified the parts of your table, we should explore the other different methods you can use to add them to your documents.
Using Insert Table
Again, we will move our cursor to the point in our document where we would like our table to appear.
Go to the Insert Tab on your Ribbon and click Insert Table, rather than dragging your mouse over the cells.
A dialog will appear in the center of your screen:
You can now select the number of rows and columns that you would like. For our purposes, this will be 4 columns and 2 rows.
Select your preferences in the AutoFit behavior section above. You can set a fit column width, made the width of the cells and table fit to your content, or make your table size fit to your window.
Your table is now created and ready to use!
Drawing a Table
If you know ahead of time that your table will not be a uniform size (i.e., standard columns and rows), you can draw your table. This is a very handy tool when you are using tables to create complex page layouts or forms, etc. Follow the steps below:
Click the Table icon and select Draw Table.
Your cursor will now look like a pencil and you will be able to draw individual cells anywhere in your document. You can even draw cells within cells!
Click and hold your mouse button and drag the cell into the size and shape of your choice and then release. Yes, it is that simple!
Selecting Parts of Tables
To select part of a table, simply click inside the upper left cell that represents the first cell you would like to select. Hold your left mouse button down and drag across the remaining cells you would like to select.
Adding Text to your Table
Adding text to your table is as easy as clicking into a cell and keying in your text. You can change any attributes of your text as well and even apply a Quick Style if you like!
Position Text within a Cell
As in any document you use in Word, you can decide whether to center your text within a cell, align it to the right or left or toward the top or bottom. Just click on the Table Layout tab of your Ribbon and the Alignment group.
To reach the Table Layout tab, click the box above the left-hand top of your table. This will select your table.
The Alignment group looks like this:
Using the graphics as your guide, select how you would like your text positioned withing the cell in your table.
You can format your text position for just one cell, multiple cells (by selecting the cells) or the entire table (by selecting the whole table).
Converting Text to a Table
You can also convert text into a table. This is very helpful when you have already keyed in information that you think would be made clearer in a table.
To do this, you will have to put that text into columns and rows using commas and new paragraphs, which is how you tell Word to separate your text into individual cells. Simply place a comma between the text you would like to put into a column and place a paragraph where you would like to start a new row.
Then, select the text, click on the Insert tab and the Tables icon. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Convert Text to Table.
You can now specify the number of columns as well as designate how to separate your text (i.e., paragraphs, commas, tabs, etc.)
For our purposes, we selected two columns and to separate our text with commas.
Word 2016 by default, comes with a group of table templates you can use and quickly customize to suit your needs. You can avail yourself of them by clicking the Tables tool and selecting Quick Tables.
Scroll through the templates and select the one that best suits your needs. As with other tables, Word will automatically insert Quick Tables wherever your cursor is positioned in your document.
Once your table has been created, click the template text shown above, and start keying in your own text to replace it. You can also create your own quick Tables by selecting a table that you have already created and formatted and clicking the Save to Quick Table Gallery button at the bottom of the Quick Table menu. See above.
Formatting Tables with Table Tools
When you create or select a table, the Table Tools will open automatically over the Design and Layout tabs in your toolbar. It will allow you to easily apply table styles, borders and shading attributes and much more as you can see in the screenshot below.
The Design tab will let you customize the appearance of your table.
Let’s have a look at the Table Style Options group above. In it, we can see that Header row, First column and Banded Rows are selected. So let’s now learn what all these options mean so that you can make an intelligent decision on what you do and do not want for your table.
- A Header Row is the first row in a table that contains headings (labels) for all columns.
- When First Column is checked, it simply means that the first column is also headers or labels. The same is true of Last Column.
- You can also choose to have banded rows or columns. Banded Rows format even and odd rows differently so they are easier to read. If you choose Banded Columns, it will format even and odd columns differently.
- Total Row means to create a row for mathematical formulas (i.e., totals)
In the Table Styles group, you can select a new table style or apply shading to your table by clicking the Shading icon.
In the Borders group, you can use Border Styles to add borders to rows and columns to customize the look of your table.
The Layout tab, when associated with the Table Tools, will allow you to easily insert rows and columns and format text and objects within the cells of your table.
Selecting Cells, Rows and Columns
Selecting cells, rows and columns in Word 2016 is easy:
To select a cell, click within the cell so your cursor is blinking.
Go to the Table Format tab and the Table group and click on Select | Select Cell.
To select a row, click in the first cell in a column, then go to Select | Select Column.
The Border Painter Tool
The Border Painter Tool was a feature added in Word 2013. It makes applying different widths and borders to your table easier than ever before possible. To find the tool, select your table and go to the Table Tools Design tab.
To use the Border Painter, first apply formatting to some borders in your table and click the Border Painter icon. Click on any border to apply the formatting. You can also click and drag your mouse to apply it to a whole line.
The Border Sampler works with the Border Painter tool. The border Sampler is located at the bottom of the Border Styles Gallery. To access it, click the border Styles icon in the Borders group under the Table Tools Design tab.
Simply click on Border Sampler and an eyedropper will appear. Click on a table border that you would like to sample. Word will then switch to the border Sampler. You can apply the same formatting someplace else in your document as well.
Adjusting the Width of Individual Columns
There are several methods to adjust the width of you individual columns:
- Position your cursor over the edge of the column and then drag it to the desired width.
- Select the column, then go to the Table Tools Layout tab and Cell Size group. enter a new width using inches.
Adjusting Width of All Columns
To fix the width of all columns at once, select your entire table and use the Width box under the Layout tab to adjust the columns to your desired size.
You can also use the Distribute Columns icon to make all of your columns the same size.
You can adjust rows in the same manner using the Height field instead.
Adding Rows and Columns
There are two methods you can use to add a new row or column to a table.
You can select a cell, row or column and right click on it and select Insert from the resulting menu.
- You can then choose:
- Insert Columns to the Left
- Insert Columns to the Right
- Insert Rows Above
- Insert Rows Below
- Insert Cells
Also, you can select a cell, row or column, then navigate to the Table Tools Layout tab and select an option from the Rows & Columns group.
You can also add rows and columns by simply mousing over a row or column. When you mouse over the row, note the little plus sign that will appear.
Click the plus sign to add a row.
Deleting Cells, Rows or Columns
To delete a Cell, Row or Column, simply select it, navigate to the Layout tab, go to the Delete group and select what you want to delete of if you want to delete the entire table.
You will then have the option of deleting a cell, rows and columns by right-clicking inside a cell. In the menu select Delete cells. Click the appropriate command and OK.
Merging Cells and Splitting Cells
To merge cells, drag your mouse over the cells while holding your left mouse button to select them. In the Layout tab, select the Merge cells button from your Ribbon.
The Merge Cells button is located in the Merge group on your Ribbon. Alternatively, you can select the cells you would like to merge and click your right mouse button to select the Merge Cells from the menu.
Remember – left click selects and right click gives you options!
To split a cell, select it and click the Split Cell icon on your Ribbon.
This button is also found in the Merge group. Select the number of rows and columns you would like to split and click OK.
The Split Table button is located in the Merge group under the Table Tools Layout tab.
Doing Calculations in a Table
You can do math in your table in much the same way that you do worksheets in Excel. However, Word’s math commands are simpler and easier to use.
As an example, let’s do a sum.
To total a sum of values in your table, create your table and add the values. You can put your values in rows or columns, just be certain that the last cell in your row or column is empty.
Click in the cell where you want the total.
Go to the Table Layout tab and in the Data group, click the Formula icon.
Select Sum from the Paste Function menu.
You should now be very well prepared to go forth and create eye popping and easy to read tables of all manner! But if there is something I missed that you need to know, please feel free to ask!