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: Adjusting Column Width from the Keyboard.

Adjusting Column Width from the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 6, 2014)

2

Many people who are familiar with WordPerfect later find the need to learn how to use Word. Sometimes the transition is not entirely smooth, in large part because tasks aren't accomplished the same way in Word as they are in WordPerfect.

A case in point is adjusting the width of table columns by using the keyboard. WordPerfect, which has always been a "keyboard oriented" program, makes the adjustments easy: just press > or < to widen or narrow the column. Word, on the other hand, has always been more mouse oriented and has no equivalent keyboard command for this task.

There are workarounds; for instance, you can use the keyboard to type Alt+A, R, U, and then press Tab a couple of times to get to the column width field. The problem with this, of course, is that it is not anywhere near easy (or intuitive).

If you don't mind using the mouse, you can hold down the Alt key as you drag a column border. The Ruler changes to show the precise width of your columns as you move the border. Very cool, but still a pain for those who would rather just use the keyboard. (It is also not terribly helpful for those who may not have very good mouse resolution, or who cannot move the mouse very small distances.)

Perhaps the best solution is to make your own emulation of the WordPerfect capability. The following macro can do just that:

Sub StretchColumn()
    Dim CurrentSize As Integer
    Dim NextSize As Integer
    Dim CurCol As Integer

'Get the current width (in points)
    CurCol = Selection.Cells(1).ColumnIndex
    CurrentSize = Selection.Tables(1).Columns(CurCol).Width

'Increase the current width by one point
    NextSize = CurrentSize + 1
    Selection.Columns(1).SetWidth _
      ColumnWidth:=NextSize, _
      Rulerstyle:=wdAdjustNone
End Sub

If you assign this macro to a shortcut key (as described in other issues of WordTips), then you can increase the width of the current table column by one point (1/72 of an inch) each time you press the shortcut key. You can make a simple change to the macro to create a version that decreases the column width, as well:

Sub ShrinkColumn()
    Dim CurrentSize As Integer
    Dim NextSize As Integer
    Dim CurCol As Integer

'Get the current width (in points)
    CurCol = Selection.Cells(1).ColumnIndex
    CurrentSize = Selection.Tables(1).Columns(CurCol).Width

'Decrease the current width by one point
    NextSize = CurrentSize - 1
    Selection.Columns(1).SetWidth _
      ColumnWidth:=NextSize, _
      Rulerstyle:=wdAdjustNone
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3912) 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: Adjusting Column Width from the Keyboard.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing an AutoShape

Got an AutoShape you previously added to a document, buy you now want to change to a different shape? You can change ...

Discover More

Moving Section Breaks

Section breaks are used to divide a document into two or more sections that can be independently formatting. If you want to ...

Discover More

Selectively Find and Replace Page Borders

Using Find and Replace you can both find and replace graphics in your document. Replacing graphics selectively is a bit ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Self-Adjusting Column Widths

It is important to understand how column widths relate to the margins you may have set in your document. The reason is ...

Discover More

Adding Vertical Lines Between Columns

Columns can be an integral part of your document layout. In some instances you may want Word to insert a vertical line ...

Discover More

Mixing Column Formats On a Page

Want to switch the number of columns used for your text, in the middle of a page? You can do this very easily by following ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three minus 0?

2015-02-20 14:26:30

Patrick

Brilliant! Thanks so much for posting.


2014-12-08 17:01:24

lil chow

I can't get this macro to work. please help. I am using MS Word 2013.
thanks.


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share