What Is the Advantage of a Table in Word Document?

By Filonia LeChat

Unless you’re working with a request for proposal, a standard operating procedure file, or another document type that dictates your format, a Microsoft Word document may be page after page of just text. Although the options are somewhat hidden away, Word does offer ways to break up the text on its pages, including a table creator. Try the benefits of adding tables to your next Word document. With Word, you’ll want to put your information clearly on -- or in -- the table.

Definition

Although the Microsoft Word software is considered a word processing program, it offers far more than just a place to collect numerical and alphabetical characters on a page. Along the top of the Word software screen are tabs which hold options you can insert into the documents, including tables. Tables are ways to break up information in a Word document and corral it into specially prescribed spaces. Word has no particular restrictions on its tables; you can make a table out of a single cell or hundreds of cells, as well as your preferred number of rows and columns, along with your preferred border colors and thickness.

Main Advantage

The biggest benefit of adding a table to a Word document is providing a visual grouping of information. While you could simply type rows of data onto the Word page, the straight lines of a table direct the reader’s eye and show a clear delineation where paragraphs of text may not. Even if your table is just a few cells, it may be a better choice than typing out the data. Readers who simply skim for the meat of a document will grasp the data in a table in a quick glance rather than having to hunt through text, headers and subheads throughout a document.

Other Benefits

Tables also provide options to add a bit of formatting to an otherwise black-on-white Word document. While no formatting is required with a table, you can add some color to a Word document by shading the table header cells or certain cells within the table to draw the eye, such as cells that represent loss of sales or areas bordering in a danger zone. You can also move table data quickly from cell to cell by simply highlighting it and dragging it into a new (empty) cell -- no cutting and pasting required.

Process

To add a table to a Word document, click the “Insert” tab. Click the “Table” button, directly below the tab, to open a small interactive drop-down window. Press and hold down the left mouse button, then drag it to highlight the number of rows and columns for the table. This can always be changed within the Word document itself. Once you release the left mouse button, the table is added to the document blank. Clicking the table opens a new tab at the top of the page, “Table Tools,” with a corresponding ribbon with options to format the table.