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MS Word Table Mania – Part 1 – Inserting Tables

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Word

MS Word Table Mania – Part 1 – Inserting Tables

Well, with the introduction of tables complete let’s get down to business.

To begin with we need to look at ways, and there are several, to insert a table into a document.

One way is to use the Insert Table button on the Standard toolbar.


When you click on the button a drop-down screen will appear. This allows you to choose the number of columns and rows to be initially created in your table.

Just a side note: Before clicking this button place the cursor where you want the table in the document as the table is inserted at the cursor location.

While still holding the mouse button, drag the mouse pointer into the drop-down screen. The blocks will be highlighted, representing the number of rows and columns your table will contain. (It will also tell you this information across the bottom of the drop-down screen.)


When clicking on the Insert Table button, do not release the mouse button. This will allow the drop down screen to expand as far as your monitor will allow.

The advantage you ask?

Good question!

Answer: You will be allowed to initially create larger tables with the expansion of the drop down screen. This minimizes the need to add rows and columns at a later time.

Once you’ve selected the table size, a table will be created in the document. Remember, tables are inserted where the cursor is when you begin the process so be sure to place the cursor where the table should be inserted before starting.

The second way to insert a table would be to go to the Table menu, and choose the Insert Table choice.

A window will open where you can dictate the initial settings for your table. You can set the number of columns, rows and determine column width options.

In Word 97 you can choose to leave the column width at Auto or set an exact width.

Auto will get you a table that fills the page from the left to right margin with the columns at equal widths. If you set an exact width then columns will be created with your exact measurements.

In the newer MS Word versions you can choose to set:

  • Fixed column width: width doesn’t change to accommodate data, the rows grow deeper as data is wrapped within the current cell.
  • AutoFit to contents: columns will keep getting wider to accommodate data
  • AutoFit to window: widths will change to keep the table within the margins of the page.

Once these options are determined click on OK.

The table will be inserted at the point where your cursor was in the document.

And finally, a third method for creating a table in MS Word is to draw the table using the tools available in either the Table menu or the Tables and Borders toolbar. (Edit menu, Toolbars, select Tables and Borders.)

To begin drawing a table you will need to click on the Draw Table tool.


This will replace your regular pointer with a pencil pointer.

To draw tables simply click (and hold) in the document where a corner of the table should be then drag diagonally in a direction that completes the size and placement of the table.

This creates the outer border of the table. Now, using the same tool, draw lines through the table to create rows and columns.

Do not worry about drawing them evenly spaced, which would be next to impossible anyway.

Once the rows and columns are drawn, highlight either rows or columns. Then click on the option to evenly space rows or columns in either the Table menu or toolbar.


(To highlight entire rows or columns run pointer on edges of table to get an arrow pointer then click. Holding the left mouse button and then dragging will highlight multiple rows or columns. This is a skill that may take some practice.)

Inevitably there will be an OOPS. Should you make a mistake, and need to erase lines, click on the Eraser tool and then click on the lines that need to be erased. (Good thing too, if you’re like me there’s always a mistake that needs to be fixed.)


Ok, so there’s the scoop on three ways to insert a table but there’s so much more to discuss – so many tiny details to be found!

We’ll continue this discussion next issue, but in the meantime, explore. You’ll find lots of things between the Table menu and the Tables and Borders toolbar that can be used to make the table an efficient, organized and attractive way to present your information in a Word document.

~ April

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