Uses of Tables in Microsoft Word

by Steve Tuffill

Use MS Word tables to place information into rows and columns. Alternatively, you can use tables as a way to position images that would otherwise be hard to place in the overall layout of a document. Word tables are the perfect easy way to display complex visual information in a page easily. You can also use tables in templates to simplify a complex layout.

Create a Table

The Table Auto-Format Dialog Box

Create a table from scratch. Use Insert Table dialog. "Autoformat" attempts to effortlessly create complex tables. Options for preformatted tables, such as a calendar are created by Word, easily creating a visually appealing table. Create a table from a paragraph with new lines and tabs. Use Convert Text to Table: click on the Word pull-down "Table" menu. Word intelligently guesses what you are looking for. It will change row count or column count. You can also adjust the column width and choose a specific style. This is helpful when you want to create a calendar. Drawing a table (at the top) will literally do just that. Hint: this is useful for quickly creating a placeholder for an image. But it is really limited for tables with multiple columns and rows. It will probably only be useful for creating a quick boundary for some text or a simple image you want to place in the middle of a page. It has only one row and one column. Add rows by placing your mouse cursor outside the table on its right side and clicking "Enter."

Working in the Frame and Navigating Around Inside a Table

Inserting a Caption

Navigate around a table using "Tab" and "Ctrl"+"Tab." Use "Ctrl"+"Z" to undo mistakes. Tables can be used to create a frame layout, so grid lines may be invisible. Make visible with "Ctrl"+"Shift"+"8." Use "Table" pull-down to edit, add or remove rows and columns, or insert another line. Use "Ctrl"+"Y" to repeat the action. Use one or more "Ctrl"+"Y" key-combinations to add more rows.

Using Captions for Tables

A Table That Calculates In Word

Create a table as an illustration for a document. A caption can highlight its meaning. Select table. Use "Insert" and choose "Reference." Mouse over the "Reference" section and click "Caption". Select "Table" as "Type of Label" (above or below.) Write what you like in the caption box and it will appear where you placed it next to the table. It is embedded in Word as a hidden field. The caption will move with the table.

Tables That Have Formulae

Create calculated cells in your document. Use four rows and five columns. The first column is, "Month," followed by three example months: July, August, September and Total. Use "Tab" to move. Add Row Titles: North, South, East and West at left. Now add amounts in each column. Finally, let Word add it up. Put your mouse cursor in the last row, under Total, and click on "Table." Use "Formula." A box pops up. Insert the following =SUM(LEFT). Next line: $#,##0.00;($#,##0.0) This creates the numbers in currency format. Click "OK." Use the same formula in each row. This is a dynamically-changing table which is useful for financial reports.

Making a Chart From a Table In Word

Create a chart to illustrate statistics. Click inside a table to select it. Use Table. Choose "Select" and then "Table." Next, use "Insert." Choose "Picture" and "Chart." This launches Microsoft Graph, which adds two new menus to the default bar at the top. Use them to adjust your chart and make changes to the axes and other visual elements.

About the Author

Steve Tuffill has been writing professionally since 1998. He is an experienced technical writer who has worked in computer technology for many years. He also has experience with PCs, Macs and UNIX. Tuffill started writing in school, and continued his lifelong education by traveling around the world. He holds an Associate of the Arts degree in English.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera All Images and Screenshots by Steve Tuffill