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 an ASCII Table with Spaces.

Formatting an ASCII Table with Spaces

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 22, 2016)

It is not uncommon in many word processors to format tables with spaces. Enough spaces are inserted between each column to align the first letter of each column. Word, however, includes a table editor, which provides more flexibility in formatting and working with tables. Converting ASCII tables originally formatted with spaces to Word tables can be time consuming. The following VBA macro will do the formatting automatically. It assumes that each line represents a different row in the table, and that anything beyond a single space represents a division between columns.

Sub SpacesToTable
    With Selection.Find
        .ClearFormatting
        .Replacement.ClearFormatting
        .Text = " {2,}"
        .Replacement.Text = "^t"
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindStop
        .Format = False
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWholeWord = False
        .MatchAllWordForms = False
        .MatchSoundsLike = False
        .MatchWildcards = True
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.ConvertToTable _
      Separator:=wdSeparateByTabs, _
      Format:=wdTableFormatNone
End Sub

Before running the macro, select the text you want to convert. When you run this macro, you will get the same thing you would get if you selected the option from the Table menu and then chose Text to Table. This means your columns might look funky; they will definitely need to be resized. But the hard work of getting rid of all the spaces has been done for you.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (781) 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 an ASCII Table with Spaces.

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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