Many of us use tables when preparing Word documents. Tables help you to show large amount of information in smaller content area. It also helps the reader to understand the data quickly. If you are frequently creating tables, here are some power tips to handle Microsoft Word tables like a pro. Learn more on how to fix slow Word in opening and processing files.
Handling Tables in Microsoft Word
These tips will work on all on Word versions including Microsoft 365 app to create tables. Do not confuse this article with creating table of contents. You can learn more about creating beautiful content in your Word document here.
1. Keyboard Shortcuts to Create Tables in Word
You do not need to go to “Insert” menu to add table in your document. Word automatically performs some formatting tasks. The most useful of these is to create tables using the + and – (plus and hyphen) symbols.
- Type a + sign and then type a hyphen.
- Again type + sign.
- Press enter and the table is ready with a single cell.
You can press tab to create rows and click on the + icon on top right to add new rows (only available on latest Word versions). Alternatively, continue the + and – sequence like +-+-+ to create multi column table. In addition, when you provide lot of spaces like +-+ SPACE +-+, Word will create table with three columns. The first and last columns having same width and center column having larger width as per the space you have provided.
After creating a table with shortcuts, you can start typing the data as usual. If you notice, Word converting + and – symbol to ± or ∓ , press “Control + Z” (or “Command + Z” in Mac) to undo the auto corrections.
2. Fixed Height and Width Table
Generally, Word will automatically adjust the cell height and width according to the content inside. However, some people want the cells of the table to remain in the same size as they are, and want to keep the table size constant. Follow the below instructions to fix the width and height of the table cells:
- Right click on the table and select “Table Properties” option.
- This will display the Word “Table Properties” dialog box.
- You can setup the preferred width and height for the rows, cells and entire table under the corresponding tabs.
- Next, go to the table tab and click on the “Options” button available there.
- This will display Word “Table Options” dialog box.
- Uncheck the “Automatically resize to fit contents” check box.
- Click OK to close the “Table Options” dialog box.
- Then click OK to close the “Table Properties” dialog box.
With these settings, you will have a fixed width and height table.
3. Stop Cell Content Across Pages
When you have a larger table, most likely the row content will be split and spread to next page. If you do not want the rows to split across pages, follow the below instruction:
- Select the table or all the rows below the row you do not want the split.
- Right click and go to “Table Properties” dialog.
- Under “Rows” tab, uncheck the option “Allow row to break across pages”.
Click OK button to close the dialog. Now, you will have a neat table.
4. Show Table Header Across Pages
When you have table spreading across pages, it is good idea to show the header on all the pages. This will help reader to understand the column header without going to the top each time.
- Select the entire table and go to “Table Properties” dialog.
- Navigate to “Rows” tab.
- Check the option “Repeat as header row at top of each page”.
Remember, you should select entire table in order for the option to open. If you right click on a single row and go to properties, you will see the option is frozen.
Also, learn how to insert dividers in Word quickly.
5. Quickly Delete Tables
Deleting a table is a bit pain in Word. You can select the table or column content and press delete button. This will only delete the content and the table will be there. Many people follow “Control + X” by selecting the entire table to cut the table. However, you can simply use Backspace key to delete table or selected rows.
Select row, column or entire table and press backspace key – this will delete the data and the row/column/table.
6. Navigation Shortcuts for Table
One of the problems in tables is to go to particular cells quickly. For example, you are in first cell of a row and want to navigate to the last cell of the same row. If you are struggling to move around the cells, use the below keyboard shortcuts to quickly navigate through cells in tables.
|Tab||To move to the next cell in a row|
|Shift + Tab||To move to the previous cell in a row|
|Alt + Home||To get to the first cell in the row|
|Alt + End||To go to the last cell in the row|
|Alt + Page Up||Move to the first cell in the column|
|Alt + Page Down||Move to the last cell in the column|
|Up Arrow||Go to the previous row|
|Down Arrow||Move to the next row|
7. Type Date and Time
Do you want to show current date and time in any table cell? Word has simple keyboard shortcuts for that:
- Press “Alt + Shift + D” to insert current date.
- Press “Alt + Shift + T” to insert current time.
The date and time will show as per the format set on your computer that you can see on the lower right corner on the taskbar. Check out the complete list of alt code keyboard shortcuts to insert symbols in Word.
8. Change Text Direction
Sometime you may need to change the text direction inside a table. This is useful especially when you have a merged cell content in a column. Right click on the cell that you want to change the text direction and select “Text Direction” option. You can change the direction to vertical and preview the display before applying the changes.
9. Quick Copy and Paste in Table
Windows 10 has a Clipboard History option to keep multiple items in the clipboard. However, Microsoft Word has another easy way to copy and paste content by keeping the current item in the clipboard.
- Select the text from a cell you want to copy.
- Press “Shift + F2” shortcut keys.
- Now you will see a message on the status bar showing “Copy to where?”
- Move the cursor to the cell where you want to paste the selected content.
- Press enter to insert the selected content.
- Press escape key, if you want to terminate without pasting.
This will temporarily allow you to copy and paste content within Word while keeping the previously copied item in the clipboard. When you press “Control + V”, the previously copied item will be pasted from the clipboard.
10. Quick Table Styles
After inserting a table, you can change the style quickly. Click on the table and Word will show a “Table Tools” menu with “Design” and “Layout” options. Select the plain, grid and list table design and change the layout at any point of time. You can also create your own custom style for tables and apply to all the tables you create in Word.
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