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Jazz Up Your Tables In MS Word

Monday, November 22nd, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Word

Jazz Up Your Tables In MS Word

How would you like, with only a couple of clicks, to change this ordinary MS Word table


into this…


or maybe this…


or any of over 3 dozen styles?

Sound too good to be true?

Well, maybe it does, but let me assure you it is 100%, absolutely true!

Want to know how?

Yeah—of course you do. After all, if the program will put the finishing touches on the table for us then we’d be crazy to waste our time doing it manually. Wouldn’t we?

So here’s the scoop!

The first thing you need to do is to draw your table.

(For information on drawing MS Word tables see the MS Office Tips & Tricks archives located at Check out the May 2, May 7 and May 9, 2002 issues.)

At any rate, once you have the table drawn you’re ready to go.

Next, put the cursor in the table – anywhere.

Now you’re looking for Table AutoFormat. This can be found several ways.

One way is the Table menu, Table AutoFormat choice. (Alt, A then F will also do that trick without the mouse.)

Another way is to right-click and then choose Table AutoFormat from the pop up menu. (If you’re using Word 97 you only have to have the cursor placed in the table for this to work. Newer versions require you to highlight the entire table and then right-click.)


Once you’ve made the selection the Table AutoFormat window will open.

This window gives you a choice of styles down the top left side and a preview to the right of the list.


Scroll through the list – there are a lot of choices.

Find the one that you like best and leave it selected.

Now we need to turn our attention to the choices in the bottom of the Table AutoFormat window.

The middle section of the screen allows you to customize the formatting changes made to your table. Borders, shading, font, color and AutoFit are your choices. Deselecting an option will remove that change from the style you picked from the list.

(Just one quick note here about the AutoFit choice. If you do not deselect this option your columns will be adjusted down to “just” fit the largest item in the column. If you have narrow data it tends to “shrink” the entire table quite a bit. I find that I uncheck this box constantly because I do not want the dimensions of my table changed.)

Notice the preview section – it changes as you select or deselect options giving you a clear picture of what your table will look like when you’re done.

The bottom section allows you to choose where the special formats will be applied. Again, check the preview pane as you choose options to get exactly the effect you want.

When you’ve made all your decision click Ok.


Your table has been transformed into a beautiful masterpiece with just a few clicks!

If only redecorating the house worked this way…

~ April

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