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How to create and customize tables in Microsoft Word

Julie Sartain | Aug. 6, 2014
Creating tables in Microsoft Word used to be so annoying that most people just did it in Excel, then imported it into Word. It's worth giving Word 2013's table tools a try, though, because the process is easier, and there are some new graphical options.

Creating tables in Microsoft Word used to be so annoying that most people just did it in Excel, then imported it into Word. It's worth giving Word 2013's table tools a try, though, because the process is easier, and there are some new graphical options. 

Seven ways to create tables

Microsoft now provides five different methods for creating tables: the Graphic Grid, Insert Table, Draw Table, insert a new or existing Excel Spreadsheet table, and Quick Tables, plus an option for converting existing text into a table. To start, open a blank Word document from the Home/New page. Position your cursor in the document where you want the table inserted.

Graphic Grid/Select Table from Graph

Under the Insert tab, click the Table button. The Insert Table dialog box will open, showing a basic grid pattern as well as traditional menu options below it. Place your cursor on the first cell in the grid and slide it down and over until you highlight (for this example) four columns and five rows, then click once.

Notice that once the table is created, a new option called Table Tools appears on the Ribbon bar with two new tabs: Design and Layout. See the Layout and Design section below for details regarding these options.

Insert Table

Click Insert > Tables > Insert Table from the dropdown menu. In the Insert Table dialog box, enter the number of columns and rows you want in this table (four columns and five rows). In the AutoFit Behavior panel, select Auto, or click the down arrow to choose a specific size. You can also choose AutoFit to Contents (produces narrow columns that expand as you add data) or AutoFit to Window (expands the table to fit the document size). Check the Remember Dimensions for New Tables box if you want the sizes you're entering now to become your defaults for future tables.

Draw Table

Click Insert> Tables > Draw Table. The cursor turns into a pencil, which you drag down and across to draw a box. Don't worry about the exact dimensions; you can modify it any time.

Once the box is created, position the cursor inside the box and draw lines over and down for the columns and rows (one at a time). Don't worry about crooked lines, either — Word straightens them as you draw.

To add or remove columns and/or rows later, click anywhere inside the table, then select the Design tab under Table Tools. Click the Draw Table button to add or continue drawing lines with your pencil cursor, or click the Eraser button to remove lines with the eraser cursor. To remove a line, just touch the line with the eraser cursor, and the line disappears.

 

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