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Microsoft Word 2003: Table Tricks and Tips

Microsoft Word tables are a powerful and flexible tool for improving the look and layout of text. Here are some techniques that make it even easier to use tables in your Word documents.

Adding Text Above Tables

Oops! Now you have a great table at the top of your document but forgot to add room for text. If you hit [Enter], the new line is added to the table. The simple solution:

  1. Press [Ctrl] + [Home] to move to the top of the document
  2. Then press together: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Enter] to automatically add a new blank line above the table.

Easy Table Select Button

Move into any location in a table and look above the upper-left corner for a four-sided arrow button. How can you use this button?

  • Click once to select the table and then apply formatting.
  • Click and hold once and move your mouse to move the table (another solution when you need a blank line above your table)
  • Double-click to open the Table Properties dialog box for changes to the table, rows, columns, and cells.

The Best Way to Size Columns & Rows

When you want to re-size a column or row did you know that your results depend on where you go to change the width or height?

There are 2 basic approaches: changing column or row sizes inside the table or in the ruler at the top or left of your document. What should you pick when you want to, for instance, change a column width?

  • Inside the table: re-size a column by dragging the right edge of a column. This technique doesn't change the overall width of the table, and so, the new width will add or remove the space from other columns, usually the column immediately to the right. By the way, re-size any row by dragging the bottom edge of the row.
  • In the ruler: click into any location in a table and the ruler at the top displays gray, square dividers between columns. Move your mouse up to any of these and drag left or right to change the column width of the column to the left of the divider.
    The result: the overall width of the table changes but no other columns will need to adjust to accommodate the new width.

Be Careful: either of these techniques applies either to the entire column (or row) unless specific cells are selected and then only those will be re-sized.

What is the Exact Size?

Okay, so now you have some great ways to size the columns and rows in your table, but how big are they? Try this cool trick: hold down the [Alt] key while sizing/dragging the column width or row height. Regardless of your approach, the ruler will display the current size in inches which helps you compare multiple areas in a table and helps you pick the right size.

Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.

This article and more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with copyright and attribution.
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Hot Word Tip
Press [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Enter] to automatically add a new blank line above a word table positioned at the beginning of a document.
 
Did You Know?
A Microsoft Word table can be as large as 63 columns and 32,767 rows.
 
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