Tables are one of those easy tools in Microsoft Word that can be so useful, but so few people understand properly. With the easy setup wizards and numerous themes available, you can use tables to create some great looking documents.

To begin with, lets look at the basics surrounding the use of tables:

To insert a table click Insert > Table and click on the dropdown arrow. You’ll then see a neat little grid where you can set the height and width of you table by selecting the relevant squares on the grid. Choose your number of columns and rows, the insert your table.

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Once this is in, you can either play with the design straight away, or wait until your table is full to see what the desired effect will be.  Personally I prefer getting the information in the table first so the effect is more pronounced.  Once you are ready to do this, then click anywhere in your table to select it, and you will see the ‘Table Tools’ menu appear in the Toolbar. Choose the Design tab, and hover over any of the preset designs to see a preview of it in your selected table. You can view more preset designs by clicking on the ‘more’ arrow which is located under the scroll bar section of the design tab.

To select your chosen design, click on it. Having a colour scheme to your document and matching your table with this will make it look amazing!


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If you find the pre-set colours do not suit what you are looking for, you can modify a style by opening up the Table Style Chooser and selecting ‘modify table style’. Here you can set a whole host of options, and apply rules to keep the formatting consistent. You can set border lines and colours, change fonts, shading and fill patterns for the whole table or for certain columns and rows.

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Feeling creative?

Once you’ve got the basics sorted, you can move on to being a bit more creative. Rather than choosing insert table, you can choose to Draw Table. This allows you to create unique, custom tables with tables nested within tables, different rows and columns in a single cell, and much more.

To do this, select Insert > Table > Draw Table and then you will see a small pencil icon in place of your cursor. Simply left click and drag on your page to draw a cell the size and width that you require. You can draw a cell in a blank space, or try setting the cell over existing text to add that wording inside your cell. You can then click in any cell and adjust the properties individually.


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You can create great effects this way, and this is one easy way of designing a newsletter in Microsoft Word. Try adjusting the shading of the different cells, adding borders or patterns and dropping in a background image. All of these options are set under Table Tools > ‘Design’. Removing the borders can make it look more “magazine like” too.


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Editing individual cells

To edit the formatting of an individual cell, click into the cell, then right click and select ‘table properties’. From here you can choose to set properties for the entire table, or for individual rows, colums and cells. Select the ‘cell‘ tab to see your options and click the ‘options‘ button to see even more properties.

From the Table Tools menu (and also the right-click menu) you can select ‘borders and shading‘ and from here you can edit style and colour of your individual cells as in the image below, which is a great way to create callout boxes and give your document a ‘magazine’ feel to it. Make sure that you select ‘Cell‘ from the ‘Apply To’ dropdown box so that you formatting is applied to the individual cell and not the whole table

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Using this method is just one way of formatting your documents in Microsoft Word, and it can be especially handy where you want to restrict the amount of editing people can do to your document, and to set boundaries to keep the formatting consistent. It’s also an easy way to give your document a different feel and to create a magazine layout.

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