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Formatting Lots of Tables

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Formatting Lots of Tables.

Word includes a very powerful table editor that allows you to make short work of presenting tables in your documents. To quickly format a table, you can use Word's Table AutoFormat feature if you so desire.

Even though the Table AutoFormat feature is great, it doesn't provide optimal formatting for all users. It is not unusual to need entirely different table formatting than what is available with AutoFormat. If you have many tables to format, and the formatting of your tables is complex, you may be longing for the ability to add your own table formats to Word.

There are ways you can lighten your table-formatting burdens, however. All you need to do is use the following features of Word.

  • Styles. You can define styles for the way information should appear within your tables. Once you actually insert the information into the table, you can then apply a style to the data, thereby automatically setting font, indent, spacing, and alignment information.
  • Macros. As you format a table to appear the way you want it, simply record a macro that you can later replay. Provided you are acting upon entire tables, columns, or rows, you can easily use the macro to speed subsequent formatting tasks. The macro can even be assigned to a toolbar button, menu selection, or shortcut key to make formatting your tables even easier.
  • AutoText. If you set up your tables before inserting information into them, you can create a blank table and then save it within an AutoText entry. Insert the entry at a later time, and your blank table is immediately available for inserting information.

How you mix and match these features to achieve your goals is up to you. (How you use each of these features has been the focus of considerable time in past issues of WordTips.) With a bit of careful preparation and planning, you can easily automate and cut your table formatting tasks down to size.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (869) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Formatting Lots of Tables.

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Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!


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