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Microsoft Word 2003/2004

Table Basics

A table is composed of columns (vertical) and rows (horizontal). Cells are formed where columns and rows meet. For example, to create a table to show course assignments and their due dates, information such as the course names might go in the far left column. Information such as the dates might go in the top row. The information in the cells would represent the specific assignments (e.g., a research paper) due for a particular class on a particular date.

The following graphic is an example of a table with three columns and four rows. The highlighted cell is just one of the 12 cells in the table.
Sample Table

This document contains the following:

return to topCreating a Table

When creating a table, some preliminary planning reduces the amount of time needed later to make the table look right. Sometimes even a simple sketch of one or two lines of the table can save a great deal of time.  Once you know what you want the finished table to look like, you can begin creating it by using the Table menu, the toolbar, existing text, or the Drawing button.

Creating a Table: Menu Option

  1. Place the insertion point where you want the table to appear

  2. From the Table menu, select Insert » Table...
    The Insert Table dialog box appears.
    Insert Table dialog box

  3. Under Table size, use the nudge buttons or type the desired number of columns and rows

  4. Windows: To specify width, under AutoFit behavior, select Fixed column width and type a value or use the nudge buttons to specify the desired width
    Macintosh: To specify width, under AutoFit behavior, select Initial column width and type a value or use the nudge buttons to specify the desired width
    To allow the table to expand as you type, under AutoFit behavior, select AutoFit to contents
    To allow the table to expand or shrink along with the size of the window, under AutoFit behavior, select AutoFit to window

  5. To create the table, click OK
    An empty table appears on your screen and you are ready to begin adding information.
    NOTE: Your table will appear with borders; to modify or remove the borders, refer to Tables: Adding Borders and Shading.

Creating a Table: Toolbar Option

  1. Place the insertion point where you want the table to appear

  2. On the Standard toolbar, click INSERT TABLEInsert Table button» select the appropriate dimensions
    An empty table appears on your screen and you are ready to begin adding information.
    HINTS:
    To select columns, drag across; to select rows, drag down.
    Your table will appear with borders; to modify or remove the borders, refer to Tables: Adding Borders and Shading.
    2 x 4 table                      3 x 2 table

Creating a Table: Existing Text Option

If you have already typed the information for a table, you do not have to retype it into the new table. You can convert the existing text into a table. Word converts special characters such as paragraph marks, tabs, commas, or periods into the rows and columns of a table. You can also define an alternative special character (e.g., the tilde ~).

  1. Select the text to be converted to a table 

  2. Windows: From the Table menu, select Convert » Text to Table...
    Macintosh: From the Table menu, select Convert » Convert Text to Table...
    The Convert Text to Table dialog box appears.
    Convert Text to Table dialog box

  3. Under Separate text at, select the appropriate option for separating the text into table cells
    EXAMPLE: Select Tabs
    HINT: This selection specifies the attribute Word will use as cell borders. For example, by selecting Tabs, the data contained between each tab will be given its own cell.

  4. Under Table size, verify the number of columns
    NOTE: If it appears incorrectly, you may need to return to your text and adjust the separating characters.

  5. Click OK
    The text is converted to a table.

  6. To adjust the table, refer to Table Options or Resizing Table Elements

Creating a Table: Drawing Option

You can also draw a table from scratch using the DRAW TABLE button. This option allows you to create a table with rows and columns in the desired positions.

  1. From the Table menu, select Draw Table
    OR
    On the Tables and Borders toolbar, click DRAW TABLEDraw Table button
    Your pointer turns into a pencil.

  2. Click and drag the pencil until the outline of the table reaches the desired size

  3. Release the mouse button
    The outside frame of a table appears.

  4. To draw vertical and horizontal lines for your columns and rows, click and drag the pencil within the table
    HINT: To turn off the Draw Table command, on the Tables and Borders toolbar, click TABLES AND BORDERSTables and Borders button.

To correct a mistake:

  1. On the Tables and Borders toolbar, click ERASEREraser button
    Your pointer turns into an eraser.

  2. Click and drag the eraser over the mistake

  3. Release the mouse button
    The selected line(s) disappears.
    NOTE: Some lines may seem to appear in gray, but they will not appear when the document is printed.

return to topAdding Information to the Table

You can enter information into the cells in your table by typing, just as you would outside of a table. In order to place your information appropriately, you will need to move from cell to cell in your table. When you want to move to another cell in a table, use one of the following methods:

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