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In this lesson, we’re going to delve into tables, which are a huge part of laying out well formatted documents. After we discuss tables, we’ll cover some other controls that will help round out your formatting prowess, including adding links, using symbols, creating math equations, and quite a bit more!
By now, you should be very well acquainted with getting your documents up to a level where you can adjust the tabbing and indenting, paragraph alignments, line spacing, and create quick, customized lists. If you need a refresher of what we’ve covered so far, you should check out Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 so you can bring yourself up to speed.
One of the most common formatting elements you will use in Microsoft Word are tables, so much so that it’s probably a surprise we aren’t covering them until now!
Here you see a grid that allows you to quickly spec out a table but you can also insert, draw, or pick from some predefined “Quick Tables”.
The fast way is to simply trace out the table you want using the provided grid. In the screenshot, you see we trace out a 6 x 5 table, which is previewed in the document.
With your table now placed into your document, you can set out about formatting it, which we’ll cover shortly.
Secondly, you can “Insert Table,” which means you just input the number of columns and rows and how you want the column to “AutoFit.” If you choose fixed column width, you can select “auto” or you can assign a size. Alternatively, you can AutoFit columns to fit the contents, or you can have the content AutoFit to the window.
Finally, if you intend to reproduce the table or you use that size frequently, you can have the “Insert Table” dialog remember those dimensions for new tables.
When you draw a table, the cursor is changed to a pencil and you can “draw” out the column and rows. In this way you can size the table to your liking.
Once you draw your first cell, you can then draw further cells, and create the table that is more based on how you want it to look than necessarily what it requires.
Convert Text to Table
Let’s imagine you have a bunch of text and numbers, and you realize that it would be easier to read if it were in neat columns and rows. Not to fear, text to table will allow you to quickly and easily convert all that data into a table that you can then format to your heart’s content.
So how does this work? Simply, when you want to convert a section of your document to a table, you select the section using your mouse pointer and then select “Convert Text to Table.” The resulting dialog box allows you to choose how many columns you want.
The number of rows will be automatically determined by line breaks, so for example, if you have a block of text divided with flour line breaks, your table will have four rows.
Columns are determined by commas, tabs, paragraph breaks, or another symbol you can manually assign.
Quick tables are fairly easy to reason out. Let’s say you want to insert a quick calendar, matrix, or a tabular list. You can also create your own table and save it to the list for later, quick use. Simply select the table you want to save, and select “Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery.”
There’s not a whole lot to master here. Keep in mind, when you insert a quick table, you can then edit and format as you would any table that you created from scratch. And, on that note, let’s actually dive into all that formatting information we’ve been alluding to throughout this lesson.
You get a larger variety of tools at your disposal. Note also, you can delete a table easily this way:
Back to the Ribbon, on the far right side of the “Layout” tab, you’ll find some handy controls for controlling your “Alignment” and “Data.”
You can also “Sort” cell data, insert formulas, convert your table to plain text, and repeat header rows. The last option is useful if you have a table that spans multiple pages, you can designate “header rows,” which will persist as you scroll through the table. This is useful for keep track of what column is what in long tables.
The “Design” tab by contrast is all about how your table(s) appear.
At the bottom of this menu, you can modify your table’s style if the current selection of tables doesn’t suit you. When you make changes, they will be previewed so you can see them before you commit.
While formatting or modifying a table, if the built-in selections aren’t close to what you want, you may just want to start from scratch. In this case, you can you the “New Style” dialog, which will be allow you to build a new table style based on current table styles.
There’s little difference to this dialog and the modify dialog except that modifying is based off an existing table design.
In the end, formatting your tables is going to come down to what kind of data you’re presenting and personal preference. We suggest that if you want to fully master tables, you create a blank document and mess around to your heart’s content. We are certain you’ll be creating and formatting eye-catching data-sets in less than it takes to say “columns and rows!”
Note, if you want to learn more about Excel formulas and functions, check out our How-to Geek School series on Excel Formulas and Functions!
Other Formatting Controls
On the right half of the Insert tab are some further formatting controls you should be aware of. Some of these may be of limited daily value to you, but we think it’s important to know about them in case you ever have need for them.
It doesn’t have to be an Internet URL either, it can simply refer to a location on your computer or another location in your document. Mostly though, you will probably want to refer to an Internet location, such as the best place on earth to get your geek fix!
Header, Footer, and Page Number
Headers and footers are useful for repeating the same piece of information at the top and/or bottom of each page, such as if you want to have the title of your book at the top of each page, or similarly, page numbers.
When you choose a style, the header or footer will open and the Ribbon will change to present you with special formatting options.
So you can type in your header or footer, and then decide where you want to position it, whether it’s the same across each page, and so on.
In the same vein, when you add page numbers, you can place it anywhere within a header or footer, picking from a pre-defined list of numbering styles.
If you want to “Format Page Numbers,” you’ll be presented with dialog box, which will allow you to change the number format, add chapter numbers, and dictate from where it starts.
Overall, the header and footer controls are quite easy to grasp and master. So, if you have an instructor who’s a bit old-fashioned and demands you include them in your paper, or you want the title of your book, or your name on every page, or simple page numbers – you should have no problem adding and manipulating them.
We’re not going to spend a great deal of time explaining the “Equation” functions in Word 2013. We’re guessing the vast majority of people using Word, will never have occasion to insert an equation into their documents.
That said, let’s explain the function exists in the first place. In Word, you can write a simple like “A=πr2” because you can insert the symbol for pi and then use superscript font to show radius squared.
However, if you want to write out anything more complicated than that, you’ll need to insert it using the “Equation” function. You can either select a pre-built equation from the dropdown list:
Note, the Ribbon immediately changes when you insert an equation to the “Equation Tools,” which offers a wide array of math symbols and operators, so you don’t have to try to figure out how to do it on your own.
So, if you’re a bit of a math geek or you’re taking a class and need to write a paper on a mathematical theory, you can present it ϥώwith all the necessary equations to show your work.
Symbols are characters that aren’t immediately found on your everyday, run-of-the-mill keyboard. For things like the copyright symbol and British Pounds, you need to insert the symbol using the “Symbols” function on the “Insert” tab.
For example, if you want to write “façade” and using the cedilla (ç), you’d pick it from the “Latin” subset. Similarly, something like café with its acute accent, can be added using the “Symbol” dialog box.
Note that you can also insert foreign letters using shortcut keys. You can see which shortcut key is used for each symbol at the bottom of the “Symbol” dialog box.
Note, that in the above instance, you’re not going to type “CTRL + ‘ + , + E” rather it’s “CTRL + ‘ + E.” The comma is simply there to tell you must first hold down the “CTRL” button, then press the apostrophe and “e” to insert an “é” in your document. Similarly, hold down “CTRL” plus comma and “c” to insert a “ç” and so on.
Coming up Next…
And so ends Lesson 3. We hope you enjoyed it and learned a thing or two. Knowing how to lay out tables in Word will give you a great deal of control over how you present data. Rather than simply having information in sentences or making lists, you can arrange it in neat rows and tables complete with customized colors and borders. The only limit is your creativity!
Moreover, if you’re going for a more published look and feel to your document, adding headers, footer, and page numbers is a great skill to have. Meanwhile, placing links in your documents will help readers navigate and read up on things you might otherwise have to explain with footnotes and such.
Tomorrow, in Lesson 4, we will dive into adding illustrations (such as pictures and shapes) to your documents, allowing you to create eye-popping layouts with tons of variety. You can even embed video for a true multimedia experience. We’ll end with how to add and use multiple languages, so you don’t want to miss out!
How To Format Microsoft Word Tables Using Table Styles
Apply and Modify Table Styles in Word Documents
Applies to: Microsoft ® Word ® 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)
You can apply table styles to your Word tables to format them quickly and consistently. Word is shipped with several built-in table styles or you can create your own. You can edit table styles by modifying borders, shading, character formatting, paragraph formatting and table properties. If your document includes multiple tables, table styles can save a lot of time.
Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For Word 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Table Tools Design tab may appear as Table Design.
Recommended article: How to Keep a Microsoft Word Table Together on One Page
Table styles and themes
Every Word document uses a document theme which includes a font theme and color theme. The colors used in table styles are based on the color theme.
You can select document themes, color themes and font themes using the Themes, Colors or Fonts drop-down menus on the Design tab in the Ribbon:
Turning gridlines on
When you are working with tables, it’s a good idea to turn gridlines on. Borders, which are a format, will print. Gridlines do not print.
To turn on gridlines:
If your Word document contains multiple tables that you want to format in a consistent way, it’s best to use table styles rather than applying manual or direct formatting to each table.
To apply a table style to a table:
Hover over the various table styles. The table formatting will change as you move over different table styles in the gallery.
Below is the Table Styles gallery (the current theme is the Office theme):
Selecting Table Style Options
Once you have selected a table style, you can select different Table Style Options (which are affected by the formats in the table style).
To select Table Style Options:
In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Header Row. If this option is checked, the header row will be formatted differently from the body rows.
In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Total Row. If this option is checked, the last row will be formatted differently from the body rows.
In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Banded Rows or Banded Columns for alternate row or column shading.
In Table Style Options, check First Column or Last Column if you want the first or last column formatted differently from the other columns.
You can modify a table style in a Word document and all tables using that table style will change.
To modify a table style:
From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the element that you want to modify (such as Header row).
Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.
From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the next element that you want to modify.
Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.
Repeat for other elements.
Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template. If you select Only in this document, the modified style will only be available for the current document. If you select New documents based on this template, then the table style will be modified for future documents based on the current template (usually the Normal template).
Below is the Modify Style dialog box:
You can also modify Table Properties in a table style. Table properties include table alignment, row settings and cell margins.
To modify Table Properties in a table style:
Select any other formatting options you want to apply to the entire table.
Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.
Below is the Table Properties dialog box with the Table tab selected:
You can also create a new or custom table style.
To create a custom table style:
Enter a name for the new table in the Name box.
Select the desired formatting.
Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.
New Table Style appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:
Clearing a table style
To clear a table style and remove formatting:
Clear appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:
You can also set a default table style for new tables in the current document or all new documents.
To set a default table style:
Select This document only or All documents based on the chúng tôi template (the default template in Word is the Normal template).
If you are working with documents with multiple tables, formatting with table styles can ensure that your tables are formatted consistently and save a lot of time.
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10 Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts for Selecting in Tables Microsoft Word Tricks to Keep Text Together (Words, Lines or Paragraphs) 14 Shortcuts to Quickly Select Text in Microsoft Word
How Do I… Create And Format Tables In Word 2003?
This article was originally published on January 1, 2006.
If you’re a regular reader on TechRepublic, you may have seen my series covering various features in Microsoft Excel. While I am finished with that particular series (unless you send ideas for things you’d like to see, of course!), I will be tying this new series -all about Word-in with Excel fairly tightly.
That said, I won’t be doing much integrating with Excel in this particular article, which focuses on tables in Microsoft Word.
A little about this series
I mentioned above that tables are useful for a number of purposes. To that end, I will focus on two common uses of tables after providing an introduction:
How tables work
Using tables to create professional-looking forms
A lot about tables
The tables feature is so useful and popular in Word that Microsoft has devoted an entire menu ( Figure A) to this feature.
Over the course of this three-article series, we’ll cover every option on this menu.
Into this grid, you can put anything you like: text, numbers, pictures — whatever goes into Word will go into a table, too.
Creating a table
When you use the Insert Table button, you get a miniature grid. Using this grid, you tell Word how large you would like your table. In Figure C, a table that is three columns wide and two rows deep would be created. If you make a mistake with the number of rows and columns, don’t worry too much about it. You can always change it later.
In Figure D, notice that the dialog box tells you exactly how many rows and columns will be created for your new table — in this case, five columns and two rows. If you go this route, again, don’t worry if you make a mistake.
For example, rather than the usual row and column format, you could create a table that looks something like the one shown in Figure E.
Navigating your table
Adding and deleting rows and columns
It’s easy to add rows to the end of your table, but what if you need to sneak something in between two rows you already have, or you need to add a column? What about deleting a row or column? No problem.
Shortcuts for adding and deleting rows and columns
Formatting your table
Just like everything else in Word, your table can be formatted with different fonts, colors, line styles, and more. And even after your table is initially created, you can add and remove borders to create a custom table like the one you saw in Figure E.
Changing the line weight, color, and style
Most tables have some kind of grid. But in Word, you can keep the table and remove the grid, change the grid line style to some other type, and change the color of the lines altogether.
On the toolbar ( Figure I), the four options to the right of the Eraser button handle the line styles in your table.
Figure K below shows you an example of what different borders might look like in your table.
Changing the alignment in each cell
You can also change the position of the text in each individual cell in your table. In some cells, you might want the text centered both horizontally and vertically, while in another cell, you might want the text aligned at the bottom-right corner. This is where the cell alignment options come in ( Figure L).
Using this drop-down list, you can quickly change the position of text in your table. Take a look at Figure M to see an example of what you can do. Figure M shows you all of the available alignment options.
Distribute rows and columns
Are you a neat freak? Or do you just want to make sure that your table looks professional? One way you can do that is to make sure your rows and columns are sized appropriately. For example, if you’re showing monthly budget information, your column widths for each month should look the same rather than being all different sizes. Take a look at Figure N to see what I mean.
It’s actually easy to make your table look neat: Use the Distribute Rows Evenly and Distribute Columns Evenly buttons on the toolbar ( Figure O).
You can also manually change the width of a column or the height of a row ( Figure P). When you’re in your table, take a look at both your horizontal and your vertical ruler bars. Each one is broken up with a control that just happens to be at the break point for each row and column.
From this window, you can peruse the multitude of styles provided by Word, make a modification to one of the templates, or even create your own style. The AutoFormat option allows you to specify which areas you will apply to your table. For example, if you don’t have a header row on your table, you might now want to have the special boldfaced heading text, so you can deselect the Heading Rows option. Figure R shows you the results of using AutoFormat on the mini-budget table. Note that every other line is shaded in this example. Doing that manually on a large table could take quite some time.
Creating, customizing, and formatting tables in Word is largely a function of the specialized Tables And Borders toolbar. With Word, you can create tables of practically any size and shape.
Dialogue Words: Other Words For ‘Said’
First, what is a ‘dialogue tag’?
Tags (like name tags) identify. A dialogue tag is group of words following quoted speech (e.g. ‘she said’), identifying who spoke and/or how they spoke. Other words for ‘said’ can indicate:
Volume (e.g. yelled, shouted, bellowed, screamed, whispered)
Tone or pitch (e.g. shrieked, groaned, squeaked)
Emotion (e.g. grumbled, snapped, sneered, begged)
The relation between these elements of voice are also important. It would be strange, for example, for a character to ‘sneer’ the words ‘I love you’, since the word ‘sneer’ connotes contempt which is contrary to love.
Given that there are countless verbs that can take the place of ‘said,’ should you simply find a stronger, more emotive one and use that?
Not always. Here are some tips for using dialogue tags such as said and its substitutes well:
1. Use all dialogue tags sparingly
The problem with dialogue tags is they draw attention to the author’s hand. The more we read ‘he said’ and ‘she said’, the more we’re aware of the author creating the dialogue. We see the author attributing who said what – it lays their guiding hand bare. Compare these two versions of the same conversation:
“I told you already,” I said, glaring.
“Well I wasn’t listening, was I!” he said.
“Apparently not,” he replied.
Now compare this to the following:
I glared at him. “I told you already.”
“Well I wasn’t listening, was I!”
For some, it’s a matter of stylistic preference. Even so, it’s hard to argue that the first version is better than the second. In the second, making glaring an action rather than tethering it to the dialogue gives us a stronger sense of the characters as acting, fully embodied beings.
Because it’s clear the glaring first-person ‘I’ is the character speaking at first, we don’t need to add ‘I said’. The strength of the exclamation mark in the second character’s reply makes any dialogue tag showing emotion (e.g. ‘he snapped’) unnecessary. Because it’s on a new line, and responds to what the other said, we know it’s a reply from context.
Similarly, in the first speaker’s retort, we don’t need a tag telling us his tone (that it’s curt, sarcastic, or hostile). The brevity, the fact it’s only two words, conveys his tone and we can infer the character is still mad.
Using tags sparingly allows your reader the pleasure of inferring and imagining. The reader gets to fill in the blank spaces, prompted more subtly by the clues you leave (an exclamation mark or a pointed, cross phrase).
[Join Now Novel’s 4-week course, How to Write Dialogue, for detailed guidance on formatting, creating subtext and context, and more. Get detailed feedback on a final assignment.]
The word ‘said’, like ‘asked’, gives no colour and personality to a character’s utterance. In conversation between characters, alternatives for said can tell the reader:
The individual emotional or mental states of the conversants
The degree of conflict or ease in the conversation
What the relationship is like between characters (for example, if one character always snaps at the other this will show that the character is dominanting and perhaps unkind towards the other)
Here are dialogue words you can use instead of ‘said’, categorised by the kind of emotion or scenario they convey:
Shouted, bellowed, yelled, snapped, cautioned, rebuked.
Consoled, comforted, reassured, admired, soothed.
Shouted, yelled, babbled, gushed, exclaimed.
Whispered, stuttered, stammered, gasped, urged, hissed, babbled, blurted.
Declared, insisted, maintained, commanded.
Sighed, murmured, gushed, laughed.
Cried, mumbled, sobbed, sighed, lamented.
Jabbed, sneered, rebuked, hissed, scolded, demanded, threatened, insinuated, spat, glowered.
Apologised, relented, agreed, reassured, placated, assented.
Teased, joked, laughed, chuckled, chortled, sniggered, tittered, guffawed, giggled, roared.
Related, recounted, continued, emphasized, remembered, recalled, resumed, concluded.
Despite there being many other words for said, remember:
Too many can make your dialogue start to feel like a compendium of emotive speech-verbs. Use colourful dialogue tags for emphasis. They’re the salt and spice in dialogue, not the whole meal
Use emotive dialogue tags for emphasis. For example if everything has been placid and a character suddenly gets a fright, here would be a good place for a shriek or a scream
Over at The Write Practice, Kellie McGann takes a look at dialogue tags and how to use them effectively in your writing.
“That’s not what you said yesterday,” she said, her voice implying she was retreating, withdrawing.
“Well I hadn’t thought about it yet. The truth is now that I’ve had time I see that maybe it’s not going to work out. But let’s not be hasty,” he said, clearly wanting to control her retreat, too.
“That’s not what you said yesterday.” She hesitated, turned and walked to the window.
“Well I hadn’t thought about it yet.” He stepped closer. “The truth is now that’ I’ve had time I see that maybe it’s not going to work out. But let’s not be hasty.” He reached out to place a hand on the small of her back.
In the second example, the dialogue is interspersed with setting. How the characters engage with the setting (the woman turning to face the window, for example) reveals their emotions mid-dialogue. The movement and gesture conveys similar feelings to the first dialogue example. Yet there’s a clearer sense of proximity and distance, of two characters dancing around each other’s words, thoughts and feelings.
Vary the way you show who’s speaking in your dialogue. Use emotive other words for said to season characters’ conversations. Yet seasoning shouldn’t overpower substance. Use the content of what characters say, their movement, body language, pauses, and silences, to create deeper, more layered exchanges.
Join Now Novel and get constructive feedback on your dialogue as you grow and improve.
Cover source image by Joshua Ness
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