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 Tabs.

Formatting an ASCII Table with Tabs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 15, 2014)

Many people, for one reason or another, always seem to use tabs to set up simple tables rather than using the built-in table editor that Word includes. If you want to quickly convert the "tabbed table" to a real Word table, you will appreciate this tip. The macro presented here, TabToTable, assumes that each line represents a different row in the table, and that tabs represent divisions between columns.

You might wonder why you would want to use a macro to convert a tabbed table, rather than use the Convert option from the Table menu. The reason is simple: the Convert option assumes that every tab represents a column. If you have been around the block a few times, you already know that many times tabbed tables use multiple tabs between columns. Thus, the first task of the macro is to replace multiple tabs with a single tab, and then do the conversion.

Sub TabsToTable
    With Selection.Find
        .Text = "^t{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, _
End Sub

When you are ready to run the macro, simply 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 Convert 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 tabs 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 (1395) 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 Tabs.

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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