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Create Tables in Office 2010

A table is a grid of rows and columns, somewhat like a spreadsheet in Excel. Tables are useful for displaying information in multicolumn layouts, such as address lists.

You can create two kinds of column-based layouts in Word. One kind is a multicolumn table, which I describe here. The other kind is the newspaper style, where text flows all the way from the top of the page to the bottom in one column, and then loops up to the next column. I don’t cover that feature, but you can play with it on your own by choosing Page Layout-->Columns.

Here’s one way to insert a table:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the table to appear.
  2. Choose Insert-->Table. A menu opens that includes a grid of squares.
  3. Drag your mouse across the grid until you highlight how many rows and columns you want.
  4. Release the mouse button. The table appears in the document.

To enter text into the table, just click inside the desired cell and start typing. You can move the insertion point from one cell to the next by pressing the Tab key, or move to the previous cell by pressing Shift+Tab.

When a table is active (that is, when the insertion point is anywhere within it), these two extra tabs appear on the Ribbon, under the heading Table Tools:

  • Design: Contains commands and buttons for formatting the table.
  • Layout: Contains commands and buttons for changing the structure of the table.

To change the number of rows or columns in the table, use the Layout tab.

  • To delete a row or column: Select it (drag across its cells) and then choose Layout-->Delete.
  • To insert a row or column: Click in a row or column that is adjacent to where you want the insertion, and then click one of the buttons on the Layout tab that describes the insertion you want: Insert Above, Insert Below, Insert Left, or Insert Right.

The height of each cell changes automatically depending on the cell contents. You don’t have to change the size unless you want extra vertical blank space in the cell. You can specify a cell height in the Cell Size group on the Layout tab.

More commonly, you’ll need to change a column’s width instead of a row’s height. Here’s how:

  • Position the mouse pointer over one of the table’s vertical gridlines. The mouse pointer turns into an I-beam with arrows on each side. Then drag to adjust the width.
  • Click in a cell and then enter a number (in inches) in the Cell Width box on the Layout tab.
  • Click AutoFit on the Layout tab to open a menu of AutoFit options. From there, click AutoFit Contents to automatically adjust the column width to fit the widest entry in that column.


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