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Microsoft Word 2016 Tutorial - Introduction to Tables

The Teacher
There are many different ways to create table in Microsoft Word. Tables are best way to organize contents in your documents, when you need to enter data in different columns and rows. In this video, we will discuss about creating new tables in your document using different methods, and how to enter data in them effectively?

To create a new table, click Insert Tab from Ribbon, and then click Table drop down button. The first thing you will notice here is set of boxes, which represents number of columns and rows. Let’s say, you need a table of 2 columns and 5 rows. Then what you need to do is to, hover your mouse over these boxes, and you will instantly see a live preview in your document. Click the left mouse button, and a 2 columns by 5 rows table will be draw in your document.

The first thing to note here is, how Microsoft Word distribute or decide the columns width? To understand this, let’s move to Page Layout section of the Ribbon. The first thing you need to check is the Paper Size that you are using for your current document. Like currently I am using Letter size page, which has a width of 8.5 inches, and a height of 11 inches. Now click the Margin drop down button, and check what margins are currently set for your document. For this document, they are set to Normal, and having an equal margin of 1 inch for all four sides of the paper. So, if you remove the total sum of left and right margins from the page width, which is a total of 2 inches, then what left is, 6 and ½ inches, and that is the actual space you are having on your document to enter the data between the margins. So, when you insert a new table in your document, Microsoft Word divides the available width to number of columns inserted, which in our case is 6.5 divided by 2, and we get 3.25 column width for each column.

Let’s undo this for a while, and do this again in a new document. Here, before inserting the table, I change the paper size and margins according to my preferences, which in this example, going to be Ledger as paper size, and margin are set to narrow. Now I have a total of 10 inches’ space available in my document between the margins, and let’s say I insert a new table of 3 columns by 6 rows, and see what happened?

Now, you can see that Word has divided the total available space equally to all the 3 columns, which is 3.33 for each column. So, this is how Word distribute and assign the column width, and you should take care of the Page Width and Margins before you actually insert the table.

You can also adjust the columns width later on by moving your mouse pointer over the line between the columns, and when your cursor changes to double arrow, then slide to left or right side to adjust the width. You can also adjust column width from the ruler. First make sure that Ruler is turned on, and if it is not, then click the View tab, and make a check mark on Ruler. In the ruler, you can see that the total page width has been divided into different column sections. Let’s say if you want to adjust the width of the first column then, move your mouse pointer over the first section, then move the table to adjust the width. 

Do note that, there is slightly a bit difference between both methods. If you adjust the column width from the ruler, then you can see that, even though you are adjusting the width of the first column, but the entire table is also being shifted along with. This is useful, when you need larger columns width and want to cover the blank area of the margins as well. On the other side, when you adjust the column width from the line between columns, it only affects a particular column width, not the entire table. 

As the maximum number of rows that you can insert while creating a new table is 8, and a maximum of 10 columns, when you insert a new table using pre-defined boxes from the table drop down menu. 

But if you need more rows and columns, and need to configure more settings while inserting the table, then you can use Insert Table command. 

From the Insert Table dialog box, you can specify the number of columns and rows you need in your table. Say, you need 8 or more rows, then you can either type the number, or can increase or decrease the numbers using up and down arrows. The next thing that you can configure here is the column width behavior. 

The first option in Auto Fit Behavior is “Fixed Column Width”, which is set to Auto, and that is how Word automatically distribute columns width, as I had described earlier. Or you can define a column width in inches here. Like, I need 3 columns of 2 inches each, then I can define the size here.

Then you have other options in Auto Fit Behavior like, Auto Fit to Contents and, Auto Fit to Window. Auto Fit to Contents will not create columns of a particular width, but will automatically adjust the column size, and will wrap the text according to the contents that you will type. Auto Fit to Window will adjust the column width according to available space divided by number of columns, which is similar to when Fixed Column Width is set to Auto.

The another way to insert a table is to use, Draw Table option from Table menu. When you click the Draw Table and move your cursor inside the document area, it changes to a pencil, that you can use to draw a table. You can only draw a single cell table, or you can say, a one by one table, using Pencil option. If later on you need more columns, then you can draw a line between when it changes to dashed line, to divide the single cell to multiple cells.

From Office 2003 onwards, Microsoft totally changed, how the commands appear in Menu or Ribbon. Like you see different commands in the Ribbon according to contents that you are working on. For now, as I am working inside a table, you can see two new menus, Design and Layout. If I click outside the table, then they both disappear. So, if you need to use any command from Design and Layout menus, then make sure that your cursor is inside the table. 

So, if you need to erase a line, make sure Layout menu is highlighted, and then click Eraser, and then click on the line that you want to erase.

For this lesson, I would like to tell you about one more interesting thing about tables. While entering the text in columns, when you need to move to the next column, you can press the Tab key from the keyboard. If you want to move back to the previous cell, use Shift+Tab key. This is why you see both left and right arrow on tab key on your key board. Shift Tab can also be used in Microsoft Excel or other software, while working inside tables. 

If you need more rows in your table, then just hit the Tab key, and there you have one new row available. The new row is inserted every time when you press Tab key in the last cell of the table. 

This is how you can begin working with tables. There are a lot more things that you can do with tables, that we will talk about in our next videos.

The Teacher / Author & Editor

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