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3.6: Creating and Formatting Tables

  • Page ID
    14301
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    A table is a great way to organize information within a document. A table is a grid of cells arranged in rows and columns. Tables can be used to organize any type of content, whether you’re working with text, graphics or numerical data. Unlike tabs, table cells can have headers (in bold), as well as borders or boundaries, which make the information easier to read. A table typically includes headings that identify each column or row that contains data. The following is a 5×3 table, which means it has five columns and three rows.

    Sample table
    Sample table

    To create an empty table, click Table from the Insert tab, and move the cursor over the grid to select the number of cells for the table. Click the grid to create the table and then type text into the individual cells.

    Insert Table
    Insert Table

    Word automatically adjusts the column widths to be equal so that the table fills the space between the left and right margins. To manually adjust the width or height of a cell, drag the border. Press the Tab key to move from cell to cell. If the insertion point is in the last cell, pressing the Tab key will automatically add a new row.

    If the number of rows and columns you create turns out to be different than what is needed, you can easily add or delete rows and columns via the Table Tools Contextual tab. The Layout side of this contextual tab will also allow the user to change cell size, merge & split cells, sort table data, change text alignment, and modify table properties.

    Table Tools tab

    Table Tools tab

    The Table Tools Design tab offers additional functionality to modify Word tables. Design elements include defining Table Style Options, like Header and/or Total Rows, selecting from a gallery of Table Styles, as well as adding shading and borders. You can easily insert and delete table rows and columns via this tab as well.

    Table Tools Layout tab
    Table Tools Layout tab


    It is possible to create a table from text that already exists.

    Convert text to table
    Convert text to table

    However, the data must be consistently separated, field-by-field, using a delimiter. A delimiter can be tabs, paragraphs, commas or some other user-defined character which is used to separate each field. With the cursor residing inside the existing source data, select the Convert Text to Table… option from the Table tab of the Insert ribbon.

    Delimiter Separator
    Delimiter Separator

    Clicking an option from a menu that ends with the ellipsis notation (…) indicates that a dialog window will appear. The Convert Text to Table dialog window allows the user to define the table size, AutoFit behavior, and the delimiter.

    The contents of the rows in a table can be sorted based on a column. Users can sort in alphabetic (text), numerical (numbers), or chronological (dates) order using either Ascending (A → Z) or Descending (Z → A) manner. Clicking the Sort button on the Table Tools Layout tab will open the Sort dialog window.

    Sort Word
    Sort Word

    The Sort by options will be the column headers, or Column 1, Column 2, etc. if there is No header row. The first sort selection is known as the primary sort, followed by the secondary, and tertiary sort options. The Type drop-down list will offer the choices of Text, Number or Date, depending on the existing table data. Make sure to choose either Ascending or Descending for each sort level.


    3.6: Creating and Formatting Tables is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcus Lacher via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.