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: Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default.

Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 8, 2014)

Ben said that he was having a problem with gridlines. He wanted them to be turned off (invisible) by default, but could not get that to occur. Gridlines in tables are controlled by the Hide/Show Gridlines toggle on the Tables menu. If the option in the menu is Hide Gridlines, then that means gridlines are visible; they are turned on. If the option is Show Gridlines, then that means gridlines are invisible; they are turned off.

In doing some testing, we found that the setting of the gridlines option is persistent from one session of Word to another. In other words, if you click Table | Hide Gridlines, then that setting remains for future sessions with Word, unless you have a macro that resets the option. If you are sure that the gridlines option is, indeed, being reset, then this is the first thing to check.

One thing to check is whether you are possibly confusing gridlines with borders. When you insert a table into a document, Word adds borders to that table by default. Only if you remove the borders can you see the underlying gridlines, provided you didn't click Table | Hide Gridlines. Borders print, but gridlines do not print; they are only visible for reference purposes.

To turn off borders by default, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new, blank document.
  2. Choose Table AutoFormat from the Table menu. Word displays the Table AutoFormat dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the list of available formats and choose Table Normal. The borders on the table shown in the preview area should disappear.
  4. Click Default. Word displays the Default Table Format dialog box.
  5. Click an option in the dialog box, depending on whether you want the change to apply to the current document or to all documents based on the template used to create the document in step 1.
  6. Click OK. Word sets the default as you specified.
  7. Close all the open dialog boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (293) 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: Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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