This is how you refine the formatting of tables in Word

Most people know how to create tables in Word. But do you feel that your tables often look so boring while they always look nicer on others or in magazines? There are a number of formatting tricks to give the rows and columns more pop. You can also create a table completely in Word, because this program has everything you need to create stylish tables.

Tip 01: Quick tables

The fastest way to create a beautiful table is through the function Quick tables to use. These built-in designs save you a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Word stores these quick tables in a gallery of so-called building blocks. Go to Insert / Table / Quick Tables and select a ready-made design. Customize it according to the data by adding or removing rows and columns. Have you taken care of the table and do you want to keep it? Then add it to the gallery Quick tables by in that window Save selection to Quick Tables gallery to choose. Give you in the window Create new building block give your table a name.

Mini Toolbar

You can add rows and columns to an existing table very quickly with the mini toolbar. To use this helper, right-click in a cell next to, above or below where the extra row or column should be placed. In the pop-up window, choose the option Insert so that you get to the commands to add a row or column.

Expand table

Columns and rows can be added much faster, namely with one mouse click! When you hover the mouse pointer on the left edge of the rows or just above the right side of a column, a plus sign appears in a circle. Click it and Word will add a new column or row in that place in the same format as the other rows and columns.

Tip 02: Table Style

The most common way to create a table in Word is through the tab Insert. There you click on the Table and choose by hovering over the grid how many rows and columns you need. By default you just get a white table with black lines, but by clicking in the table, two extra tabs appear in the Ribbon: Table design (or To design) and Layout. You can customize the look of the table in the Design tab in one of many colors and styles to suit the purpose of your table. The tab Layout goes without saying, you can add, merge or remove rows and columns from your table, among other things, determine how the text alignment should be in the cells and so on.

You can customize the appearance of the table on the Design tab

Tip 03: Table Properties

If you use the table as an explanation of a piece of text, it is standard between the different text parts. But you can also choose to let the text flow around the table. The advantage of text around the table is that more text fits on a page. Right click on the table and select Table properties. Click below Text wrapping on all around. It is of course not the intention that the surrounding text sticks to the table. To create some space, click Placement. In this window you indicate the distance to the surrounding text. Make sure the option Move with text is checked so that the text and table stay together when you later change the content of the document.


To accurately position the columns, use the ruler in combination with Alt. First you bring out the ruler in the tab Image where you have the option Ruler ticks. Then move the mouse pointer over an edge of the table, when the double arrow pointer appears, click on the edge and hold the Alt key. As a result, Microsoft Word will indicate to the millimeter at the top, in the ruler, how the columns are divided.

Tip 04: Convert Text

If you have text data that is separated by tabs, you can easily convert that text to a table via Insert / Table / Insert Table. Word determines the number of columns on the basis of the tabs and puts the data neatly in each cell. The number of rows is determined by the number of lines you select. In addition to tabs, you can also generate a table using semicolons or underscores. Choose in the menu Insert / Table in front of Convert text to table then you can determine the appearance of the table yourself, for example by choosing a fixed column width or a width that adapts to the content.


How the contents of a table are aligned matters to the appearance of the table. By aligned we mean how the contents of a cell are distributed. You record that alignment in the tab Layout. There are nine possibilities. On the same tab you will find the button Cell margins which allows you to set the distance from the cell line to the data in the cell.

Are you going for a borderless table? Turn on the grid view to still be able to see what you're doing

Tip 05: Borders and hatching

If you want to make certain parts of your table more or less visible, play with the borders and hatching. This window of the same name can be found via the Table properties, at the very bottom of the tab Table. By default, the table consists of lines of the same thickness, but you can also, for example, only outline the outer frame and hide the inner lines. To do this, first click in the tab edges on the setting No. Then click on the button Frame followed by a line style, color, and thickness. You can also colorize cells, so you don't even need a grid to present the data in an orderly fashion. For example, select the top row and give it a color with the paint bucket (in the Home ribbon or via the Mini Toolbar).

Free hand

It is also possible to draw a table freehand. Choose Insert / Table / Draw Table. Then you draw a rectangle in which you draw lines with the pencil. Click to draw the line and release the mouse button to save the line. This option is only interesting if you need a table in which not all columns or cells are equal, or if you want to use slanted lines.

Tip 06: Gridlines

When you insert a table, Word will automatically add black cell borders. You can choose to remove these borders, for example because you do not want them printed. But as long as you are still working on your table, it is useful to be able to recognize the individual cells. The button Show gridlines in the tab Layout.

If you have long title names in your table, you can choose to change the text direction of those cells. To do this, right-click in the table and choose the command Text direction.

Finally: use a sans serif font in tables. Sans serif means: without a dash (sans serif) at the ends of letters, numbers and other characters. Such fonts appear more professional.

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