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In Pictures: 10 Word Table Secrets

Tables are a Word tool that everyone needs to use at some point to organize otherwise unruly text and numbers. From timetables to rosters to invoices to calendars, all kinds of projects are based on tables.

  • 1. Have Word Do the Math If you need to total a column of figures in a table, Word can do the math. Once you've drawn the table, click in a cell in a column of numbers where you want the column total to appear. Go to Table Tools > Layout, and click Formula. If =SUM(ABOVE) does not automatically appear in the Formula dialog box’s Formula field, type it there. Select a format from the 'Number format' list and click OK. Word will automatically insert the total into the cell. If you later change any of the values, click in the cell where the formula field code resides and press F9. You can also press Ctrl-A to select the entire document and press F9 to update all the field codes.

  • 1. Have Word Do the Math If you need to total a column of figures in a table, Word can do the math. Once you've drawn the table, click in a cell in a column of numbers where you want the column total to appear. Go to Table Tools > Layout, and click Formula. If =SUM(ABOVE) does not automatically appear in the Formula dialog box’s Formula field, type it there. Select a format from the 'Number format' list and click OK. Word will automatically insert the total into the cell. If you later change any of the values, click in the cell where the formula field code resides and press F9. You can also press Ctrl-A to select the entire document and press F9 to update all the field codes.

  • 2. Place Table Headings on Every Page When you have a large table that spans multiple pages, it's useful to make the table's heading rows repeat at the top of each page. This arrangement ensures that anyone viewing a page can see clearly what each column contains without having to refer back to the top of the table. First select the heading rows to be repeated. You can select multiple rows, but they must be consecutive and they must appear at the top of the table. In the Table Tools > Layout tab, click Repeat Header Rows. You won't necessarily see any immediate difference in your table when you do this; but once the table grows beyond one page, the heading rows will automatically repeat at the top of each subsequent page.

  • 3. Create Business Cards and Name Badges In Word, you configure business cards and name badges the same way you do sheets of sticky labels, so start with a new empty Word document and click Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Labels. In the Label Options dialog box, select the type of printer you're using, the label vendor, and then the product number (which includes labels, business-card stock and name badges). If you cannot find a match anywhere, click New Label and configure the settings for your paper. Once you've selected the correct paper, click OK; a new table will appear. The table layout will match the layout of your paper stock, but the gridlines won't print. Create your cards, one per cell table, and print them on your paper stock.

  • 4. Make All Table Rows of Equal Height If a table has all of the same type of data in it, you might want to format it to make the rows the same height. If you wish, start by dragging the bottom border of the table to the position where the table should end. Now select the entire table or a series of rows, and make them all the same height by right-clicking and choosing Distribute Rows Evenly. Word will adjust each selected row, and the table will consume the entire area down to where you dragged its bottom border. You can render selected columns of equal width using a similar process.

  • 5. Break a Table in Two or Fuse Two Tables Together When you want to break a table into two pieces, you can use a handy keystroke. Start by selecting all the rows that you want to move to a second table, and then press Shift-Alt-Down Arrow (or Shift-Alt-Up Arrow, depending on the direction you want to move in) to start moving the selected rows through the table. As soon as the rows reach the top (or bottom) of the table, they'll break away and form a second, independent table. Likewise, to fuse two tables into one, you can select all the rows in one table and press Shift-Alt-Up Arrow or Shift-Alt-Down Arrow to move the rows up or down until they join up with another table.

  • 6. Place Two Tables Side by Side If you need two tables to be formatted differently, create one or both inside a text box. To place a table in a text box, click Insert > Text Box > Draw Text Box, and draw a text box in the document. Click inside the box and add the table by clicking Insert > Table. You can remove the text-box border by clicking the text box, choosing Drawing Tools > Format > Shape Outline, and selecting No Outline. If the two tables can share a general layout, you can create them as a single table and then place an empty column in the middle to provide visual separation.e is not stuck in the table cell, click it, choose Picture Tools > Format, and in the Wrap Text list choose In Line With Text.

  • 7. Add an Image Inside a Table Cell You can place an image inside a table cell so that it does not move. To do this, click in the table cell, choose Insert > Picture or Insert > Clip Art, and select the image to use. The default Word image format is In Line With Text, so the picture should stay in place; you'll simply need to resize it to fit it inside the table cell. If the image is not stuck in the table cell, click it, choose Picture Tools > Format, and in the Wrap Text list choose In Line With Text.

  • 8. Make Smart Headings for Narrow Columns When you create a table with lots of columns, the columns could become extremely narrow in order to fit within the document's margins. If you use long strings of text for column headings, they might become hyphenated beyond comprehension, or even truncated. The solution is to rotate that text. Select the cells containing the column headings, and choose Table Tools > Layout. Select Text Direction from the Alignment options, and click until the Ribbon image displays the text oriented in the appropriate direction (typically, pointing up). Now type the text into the heading cells in the table, and it will rotate and fit much better.

  • 9. Convert a Table to Text, and Vice Versa If you have text in a table that you'd prefer to appear as regular text, select the table by clicking the icon outside its top-left corner, and choose Table Tools > Layout > Convert to Text. When prompted, choose to separate the text using paragraph marks, tabs, or some other character, and click OK. Word will remove the table and convert the data. Word also allows you to perform the opposite conversion. Select the text and click Insert > Table > Convert Text to Table. Choose the number of columns, and let Word automatically select the number of rows. Indicate whether to separate the text at paragraphs, tabs, or another character, and click OK. You can rearrange the data once it is in the table.

  • 10. Quickly Number Table Rows You can number the rows in a table in such a way that they will automatically update if you add, move, or remove rows. Add a new column in which to place the numbers, select it (or select an existing column if you want to place numbers in front of the contents of each cell in that column), and click Home > Numbering. Word will automatically number the cells in the table. If you move a row to a different position -- if, for example, you use the Shift-Alt-Up Arrow or Shift-Alt-Down Arrow keystrokes -- the row numbers will instantly update.

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