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: Unwanted Vertical Lines in a Table.

Unwanted Vertical Lines in a Table

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 27, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Hugh created a table in his document that consists of six rows and two columns. He removed both the left-hand and right-hand vertical lines leaving only the centerline and the horizontal lines for each row. When Hugh looks at the screen everything looks fine. However, when he prints the page there are small vertical lines "hanging down" from several of the horizontal lines. These small vertical lines are about 3/16" in length. Hugh wants to know how to remove them.

This problem is going to take a bit of testing to track down the cause. The first thing you should do is to take the document to a different computer that uses a different printer and print it there. If you don't have access to a different computer and printer in your office, then you can drop in at your local library or quick-print shop and use their computers and printers.

If the offending lines don't print on the other systems, then you know that the problem is with your computer and/or printer. If you examine a document and see the unwanted vertical lines on other type or on other graphics, then it could be that there is something wrong with your printer. Either the ink jets are clogged or something has gone haywire in the printing mechanism itself. You can verify this by checking to see if your printer has a "self test" mode where it will print a test sheet. Normally the patterns on the sheet should print crisply, but if they don't then you can be absolutely certain that the problem is with the printer itself.

If the test page prints just fine and your document prints OK on other systems, then the problem (most likely) is with the printer driver on your system. Check with Microsoft and/or the printer manufacturer, at their respective websites, to see if there is an updated printer driver for your make and model of printer. If so, download it and install it to see if it fixes the problem.

One long-shot thing you might check, as well, is to make sure that your document doesn't have Track Changes turned on or that there aren't unresolved changes in the document. If the table contains small type, it could be that the vertical lines are nothing but Word's indicators that a change was made in the text. Resolve any changes in the text and see if the problem goes away.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9498) 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: Unwanted Vertical Lines in a Table.

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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