Use Tables: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

You know how to use Tabs in MS Word, but more often you will use tables to align text horizontally. Tables are used whenever you must keep items side by side. You do this by laying out a grid. The best thing about tables is that in the grid you can align any amount of text -- sentences, paragraphs or even pictures -- side by side.

When you want to keep text side by side in a document, create a table. This grid-like structure can contain short text, such as a number, long text, a sentence, paragraph, or several paragraphs. A table keeps the items properly aligned in columns and rows, so you don't have to fuss with setting tabs.

Tables are invaluable when you have text that must be aligned side by side. For example, when you are setting up an agenda, you'll have the time and the event next to each other. Another example would be a résumé that may show a heading on the left and a position and it's responsibilities on the right.

I think you're starting to see the endless possibilities where you might use a table quite often.

Insert a Table

There are a couple of methods to insert a table into your document. You can click the Table icon on your toolbar and drag to specify the number of rows and columns you would like in your table. You can also click on the word Table on your toolbar. From there, you will select Insert and then Table, which will open the Insert Table dialog box. From there you will select the number of columns and rows. Not to worry about whether you have enough rows and columns, as you can always add and remove them later. You can also create a table by drawing it on the page, but that is a tip for another day. For this article we will focus on using the Table icon to create a table.

After you have clicked on the Table icon on your toolbar and dragged to specify the number of rows and columns you desire, a grid-like table will appear, stretching between the left and right margins. The insertion point appears in the first cell, where the column and row intersect, ready for you to enter text.

  1. Type the contents of the first cell. Press Enter when you want to start a new paragraph within the cell. The height of the row will expand to contain all the text.
  2. Press Tab to advance to the next cell, and then type its contents. Press Tab at the last cell in a row to advance to the first cell in the next row.
  3. Press Shift + Tab to return to the previous cell.
  4. To add a new row, press Tab from the bottom-right cell in the table. This adds a new row and advances the insertion point to the first cell I n the new row.

The table keeps the text aligned side by side.

I'll show you different ways to work with tables in upcoming articles.

Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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