Tag Archives: tables

Q&A: Easy selecting in tables, 5 ways

Skip to the demo video.

Q Is there a sure-fire way to select just the content of a table cell, or a single cell vs the whole table? Word seems to have its own views on what I should be selecting.

A Arrow keys are the most precise way to select text or cells (even rows and columns) in a table, but double-clicks and triple clicks are great shortcuts:

  • Shift + arrow selects individual characters until it reaches the end of a cell, then it switches to selecting whole cells.
  • Double-click the mouse to select a single word.
  • Triple-click the mouse to select a whole cell.

The (table) Layout ribbon offers some selection options. Click the Select icon on the far left. This is great when your hand isn’t feeling steady enough to activate the selection arrow by hovering at the top or left side of the table column/row, or when Word is having a tantrum. Just make sure the cursor is already placed in a cell within the column/table you want to select.

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Use the grab point at the top left of a table to select the whole table. Click inside the table or hover the pointer over it to reveal the grab point.

Troubleshooting

To reveal the (table) Layout ribbon, place the cursor in the table. If the ribbon does not appear, you’re not working in a true table. Reveal hidden characters and you’ll likely find that the alignment was forced (faked) with spaces and tab marks. Undo that shit.

Note this (table) Layout ribbon is different from the Layout ribbon that is always visible (I’ve crossed out that other Layout tab at the left end). This special ribbon appears only when the cursor is inside a table.

If the content you want to select is at the end of a cell, it can be nearly impossible to select just that bit rather than the entire cell. Add a character (say, a period), then select up to that point (which will no longer be the end of the cell). Remember to delete that extraneous mark afterward!

To make sure you’ve selected an entire row (and not just the cells), look for the row end marker selection. See this in action in the demo video below at about minute 1:08.

Download a free workbook for editing tables. And check out the other blog posts on Working With Tables.


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Working With Tables: The Ruler

Previous posts showed you how to align table cells and numbers in columns using the ruler. It’s also possible to set margins, an indent, a hanging indent, and more on the ruler! Watch the demo at the end to see how, or just drag the related element where you want it.

With the cursor placed in a table, we can see table-specific elements on the ruler:
a. the waffle marking the gutter or edge of a column,
b. the left margin for the second (and subsequent) lines,
c. the left margin,
d. the first line left indent,
e. a tab (left) mark, and
f. the right margin.

To remove tab marks, just pull them off the ruler.

Note you want to do this for all affected lines at once; select the lines in the document before changing the ruler.

Troubleshooting

Can’t see the ruler? Select it in the Show group on the View ribbon.

If you can’t see the margin markers on the ruler, try Draft view and scroll wayyyyy over. Or, change which style that paragraph is in, then change it again (do not “undo”).

Moving the waffle that marks the column border changes only that column. The other columns stay as they were, so the right margin will get pushed around and may go outside of the page margins. Adjust all the columns until they sit right. (See also table resizing.)

Too many tab marks? Or, having trouble selecting them? Double-click on a tab mark to open the Tabs dialogue, then delete or change the tabs there.


Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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Q&A: Stop Tables Resizing

DoubleTable - expanding table 2010 on Behance

Q: I keep resetting the width of a column in my table, but when my client opens it, the column snaps back to 6″ wide! The same thing happens to me if I open the file on another computer.

A: Ugh, this is a great example of why Word is not the best choice for document design. But, there are three settings you can change to try to stop the table from resizing at least until the file goes to layout. These options are not fail-safe, but they’re your best bet:

  • Table properties
  • Table options
  • Autofit settings

Table Properties

The usual culprit behind endless resizing is found on the Column tab in the Table Properties dialog. Open that by clicking the Properties icon on the (Table) Layout ribbon. Deselect the option that sets a preferred width. Make sure the cursor is placed in the offending column, first.

Word's table layout ribbon
The (Table) Layout ribbon appears when the cursor is placed in a table. If your screen is wider, the icons at left where the Properties icon is found will be laid out in a line, no stacked.

Table Options

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 9.32.10 AM.png

Deselect the “Automatically resize to fit contents” option? Find that from the Options button on the Table tab in the Table Properties.

Autofit Settings

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 9.34.56 AM.png

Selecting “Fixed Column Width” (see pic) from the menu that opens when you click the AutoFit icon on the (Table) Layout ribbon.



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Working With Tables: Moving Rows & Columns

This is as simple as select, click, drag, release. To rearrange columns and rows, just select the row or column and then drag it where you want. Release the mouse to place the contents. Watch the demo below to see some of the snafus in action, as well as how to avoid them.

Troubleshooting

Click and drag too finicky? Page scrolling out of control? Use cut and paste instead. Cut the entire column or row, then place the cursor where you want to insert the text — be sure it’s at the beginning of the text in the first cell of that row/column — and then paste.

Merged cells (like spanning heads) can wreak havoc. Try inserting a blank row/column and move the selection there, then erase the blank.


Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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Working With Tables: Get Your Free Booklet

If you’ve found this series on editing tables helpful, download it all in one concise, updated ebook. Links to the demo videos are included, plus you’ll get exclusive access to a checklist for quality control and a self-check exercise with answer keys for various style guides. Download it now, free for your preferred ebook reader.*

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Tables are one of the great functions that Word offers over an old typewriter. You can change the format and content without retyping! You can give a table complex or simple formatting with just a few clicks. And you can quickly convert typed tables into true tables, or vice versa. This booklet summarizes everything you need to know to work with tables in MS Word 365 whether on a Windows computer or Mac. Be sure to watch the 11 demo videos and download the exercise file to test your learning, too. Just follow the links inside and use the password given in the book.

*Don’t have an ebook reader? Download a free emulator app for computer or phone:



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Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!

Working with Tables: Checking Totals

Formulas are built right into Word, so you can check totals with a click! Errors love to lurk in tables, checking the numbers can make an editor look like a hero. Just click the Formula icon on the right edge of the (Table) Layout ribbon. But watch for the snafus (see Troubleshooting).

Troubleshooting

Address most of these issues by pasting the table into Excel and using its more sophisticated formula functions.

The “ABOVE” parameter stops at empty cells, as shown in the demo. It’s possible to specify a row range instead e.g., 3:11) but it’s unclear how Word numbers the rows.

Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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Working With Tables: Repeating Headers

With this post, our series on working with tables in Word moves into more uncommon situations. For this post, we will again talk about documents that are being finalized in Word — without moving the manuscript into a design program — as is often the case with internal reports and proposals.

Tables longer than one page usually need to have their column headings repeated on every page. Word can do this automatically! And Word will keep those headings at the top of each page even as you manipulate the table contents and structure.

How to Make Table Headers Repeat

Watch the video demo below, or follow these steps:

At any point in the creation of the table, select the rows you want to repeat, then click the Repeat Header Rows icon in the Data group at the right end of the (Table) Layout ribbon.

Alternatively, select the header row(s), then click the Properties icon on the (Table) Layout ribbon to open the Table Properties dialog shown below. On the Row tab, check the box that says “Repeat as header row at the top of each page.” Then click OK.

Troubleshooting

When a table is set to have text wrap around it, the header will not repeat on subsequent pages. On the Table tab in Table Properties (shown above), make sure that Text Wrapping is set to None, not Around.

Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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Working With Tables: Converting to Plain Text

In the first post in this series, we learned how to convert a manual table to a true table. After examining seven other aspects of tables, it’s time to look at the reverse: converting a table into simple text. There’s no need to click and drag contents out of their individual cells, Word will convert it with just a couple of clicks:

Or, use the Select icon on the (Table) Layout ribbon.
The grab point pops up when the cursor is in a table.
  1. Hover the mouse pointer over the table until the grab point pops up at the top left corner, then click it. Or click anywhere in the table and then click the Select icon on the left edge of the (Table) Layout ribbon and click Select Table.
  2. On the Layout ribbon, look in the Data cluster at the right edge and click the Convert to Text icon. From there you can tell Word whether to separate the text using tab marks, paragraph marks, or some other mark you specify, like perhaps a semicolon.

Troubleshooting

Keep a copy of the original so you can check that the content is still in the right order.

You may have to delete empty lines and do a little more consolidation after the conversion.

Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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Working With Tables: Add or Delete Rows and Columns

There are several easy ways to add or delete columns and rows in tables within MS Word:

  • Right-click and select from the context menu.
  • Select from the icons on the (Table) Layout Ribbon.
  • Select the row/column and cut it using ctrl + X (cmd + X on a Mac).
  • Select the Eraser icon on the (Table) Layout Ribbon and drag it over the undesired elements.
  • And, if all you want to do is add a row: place the cursor outside the end of the row, then press Enter.
Word's table layout ribbon
This Layout ribbon appears when the cursor is placed in a table. Use the icons in the Rows & Columns group on the left to add table elements. Click the Delete icon to expand its options.
Click the Delete icon to expand its options.

Check out the demo video below to see these methods in action.


Check out all the other posts in this series about Working with Tables and download your free multimedia ebook of them all!



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