How to Format Tables in MS Word

By Anne Reynolds

Tables are used for many different reasons in Microsoft Word. The primary purpose is to organize data into an easy-to-read format for others to view and use. Microsoft Word tables allow users to display text, numbers and graphics within the body of a document. Tables are arranged in rows and columns and enhance the information being presented in the document. Microsoft Office Word 2010 creates tables effortlessly and utilizes several features to format both the table itself and the contents.

Step 1

Open up Microsoft Word 2010 and click on "File" in the toolbar menu at the top of the page. Create a new table by clicking on "Table" and choosing the option for the type of table you want. Click on a cell inside the table, once the table appears on your page. View the two tabs (Design and Layout) under the "Table Tools" menu at the top of the page.

Step 2

Click on "Design" under the "Table Tools" menu to design the overall features of your table. Three options are available to use under this menu: Table Style Options; Table Styles and Draw Borders.

Step 3

Pick any or all of the six options by clicking on the box next to the title. Click on "Header Row" to insert column headings in the first row of the table. Click on "Total Rows" to add total columns to the last row of the table. Click on either "Banded Rows" or "Banded Columns" or both to highlight even or odd rows and columns differently from each other; for easier viewing. Click on "First Column" or "Last Column" to format the first or last column differently than the rest of the table.

Step 4

Click on one of the icons in the "Table Styles" menu to format the entire table with a specific color theme. Highlight a cell or group of cells with a different color by clicking on "Shading" and choosing the color desired. This can be used for the last row or column to emphasize totals in the table.

Step 5

Click on "Borders" and pick the appropriate icon that you desire to highlight a particular group of cells and enclose them in a border. Click on options under "Draw Borders" to change the style of the border line, width of the line and color of the border. Click on the "Eraser" to remove any borders that you do not want.

Step 6

Click on "Layout" under the "Table Tools" menu to change cell attributes in your table. Options that exist under this menu include Rows and Columns; Merge; Cell Size; Alignment; and Data.

Step 7

Insert rows under the "Rows and Columns" option by clicking on "Insert Above" to add a row above the cell where the cursor is placed; or "Insert Below" to add a row below the cell. Do the same with columns by either clicking on "Insert Left" to add a column to the left of the cell where the cursor is placed; or "Insert Right" to add a column to the right of the cell. Delete cells, rows and columns by clicking on the "Delete" icon.

Step 8

Merge cells that display information in more than one row or column by highlighting the cells that you want to merge and clicking on "Merge Cells". Likewise split information from one row or column into additional cells by highlighting the cells that you want to split and clicking on "Split Cells". Create two tables from one by highlighting the row where the new table will begin and clicking on "Split Table"

Step 9

Click on icons under the "Cell Size" option to choose different row and column heights for a standard size in cells; or "AutoFit" to adjust the size to the amount of text contained in each cell. Click on the alignment icons under the "Alignment" option to specify where text will appear in each cell. Click on "Text Direction" to change the angle at which the text is displayed.

Step 10

Click on "Sort" under the "Data" option to sort data alphabetically, numerically or by date in ascending or descending order. Add formulas to calculate numerical data by clicking on "Formula".