Tables are very useful and often used in many documents, and can be a good tool for formatting text (especially if you make the borders invisible – Table > Table properties), as setting the same formatting using Tabs can be more time consuming.
To insert a table, press icon “5” on the custom toolbar or access TABLE > INSERT TABLE. You can specify the number of rows or columns you want in your table, or press TAB while in the bottom right cell to automatically create a new row. You can move between cells in a table by pressing TAB or SHIFT TAB. To place an actual tab within a table cell, you must use CTRL TAB. When in a cell, you can see a miniature ruler bar for that cell with which you can format a paragraph within a table cell in the same manner as any other paragraph.
You can change the dimension of a table or its cells by dragging its column boundaries (when holding the mouse cursor above these column boundaries, you will see how the mouse cursor changes to special arrows – after which you can drag the boundaries). If you want to drag the height of cells, you must do so by positioning the mouse cursor over the represented boundaries in the vertical ruler bar in Page Layout view, wait until you see the special arrows and then begin dragging. You can also drag boundaries for only certain cells by first selecting those cells (they should appear black) before dragging the boundaries.
Once you have formatted the dimensions of a table, you can also give the table visible borders or shading, accomplished by accessing FORMAT > BORDERS AND SHADING, or by accessing the Borders and Shading toolbar by pressing icon “16” on the custom toolbar. Remember that such border and shading instructions will only affect those cells which you have selected.
Convert Text to Table
Sometimes you may want to convert some text to a table. For example, columns of names and numbers that you started to create using Tab, but later decided that it would look nicer in an actual table.
Select the text that you want to convert and then choose Text > Convert to Table. The following window will appear.
The Number of Columns will adjust according to what you chose for Separate Text At. In our example, Tabs would be the logical selection. But wait! Perhaps you pressed Tab several times when creating your columns. In this case each Tab would be converted into a table cell separator, meaning that you only want ONE tab between the names and numbers. In which case, before converting the text to a table, while it is selected, search and replace (ctrl+h) double tabs with single tabs. In the search and replace window:
press the More icon to expand this window, and then the Special icon at the bottom. That pops up the list shown above. Between the Format and the Special icons, the search and replace window can serve as a powerful tool, so keep this in mind!
The code for tab is ^t (^p is for paragraph mark/backwards P), so search ^t^t and replace it with ^t, like so:
Press the Replace All icon (or alt+a, as you see the A is underlined in that icon – alt+f will press the Find Next icon, alt+g will go to the Go To tab etc – these underlined characters work the same throughout all windows, when used with the ALT key). A window will popup asking if you want to search and replace the same throughout the rest of the document, which is not selected. Press No, or Escape on the keyboard. By pressing alt+a and escape in rapid succession, you can quickly reduce all strings of tabs to single tabs only. Then you are ready to convert your text to a table with the right number of columns.
Alternatively, in the Separate Text At section of your convert text to table window, you can select Other and type in a special character of your choice, manually typing in that character between the words where you want to put the column separators between the cells.
Note that the paragraph mark/backwards P will always start a new row in the table.
You can also select a table and Convert Table to Text in backwards fashion.