6. Customizing the Table Layout

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The layout of Word tables can easily be manipulated. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to add and remove columns or rows, merge and split cells and set how text within cells is aligned


Lesson Goal

Manipulate the shape and layout of a Word Table.


Add columns and rows

The simplest way to do this is to place the cursor outside the table, next to the spot you want to insert the column or row. A temporary blue line will appear with a plus symbol at the end nearest the cursor. Click the plus to add the column or row.

Alternatively, place the cursor in a cell adjacent to where you’d like to insert the column or row. Navigate the Table Tools Layout tab and click the command in the Rows & Columns group to add a row or column.


Delete columns, rows, and cells

Place the cursor in the column or row or column you’d like to delete. From the Table Tools Layout tab, click delete and then either delete an entire row or entire column.

To delete individual cells, right-click the cell and click Delete Cells. By clicking shift cells left, all the cells to the right of the deleted cell will move one cell to the left. This will leave a space to the very right without any cell. Select multiple cells to apply the same effect to more than one cell.

By clicking shift cells up, the cells below will move upwards, but there won’t be an empty space at the bottom, just an empty cell.


Merge and split cells

Not every row has to have the same number of columns. A row can have fewer or more columns than other rows. Similarly, a column can have fewer or more rows than other columns.

Deleting cells will result in fewer, then that will make the table uneven as the row with the deleted cell will be shorter. To change the number of columns in a row without changing the width, we can merge two or more cells together.

To do this select the rows you wish to merge and click the Merge Cells command from the Table Tools Layout tab.

To split a row, select the cell or cells and click split cells. Type the number of rows or columns you’d like and click OK


Adjust alignment

Normal text has one-dimensional alignment. You can only adjust how the text is horizontally aligned. Text within cells has two-dimensional alignment. You can adjust the horizontal alignment and the vertical alignment.

To do this, select the cells and navigate to the Alignment group in the Table Tools Layout tab. The 9 icons represent the 9 types of alignment. There are three types of horizontal, left, center and right. And the same three for vertical.


In the previous lesson, we inserted a word table into the document.

In this lesson, we'll manipulate the shape and layout of the table.

Inserting a table is straight forward when you have a clear idea of the dimensions.

It can become more complex when you need to edit the shape and layout.

In this lesson, we'll make some significant changes to our table. We'll add columns and rows. We'll also remove columns and rows. This can be more complex than simply adding new ones. We'll then merge cells, split cells and adjust the table alignment.

We'll return to the case study document and build on the table we created in the previous lesson. We'll start by adding new columns and rows.

We'll navigate to the layout tab which is a contextual tab in the ribbon under table tools.

This tab contains commands for adding columns to the left or right and rows above and below.

Let's start by adding one column to the right of the last column.

To do this, we'll place a cursor anywhere in the right column.

It's important to click the appropriate cell to give Word a reference point of where to add the new columns.

We'll now click the insert right command.

This inserted a new column to the right.

Let's undo this and try a different method for inserting a column. If we hover the mouse next to the column or row line in a table, a plus icon will appear.

When we click it, it will create a new column or row in that spot.

Next, we'll place the cursor anywhere in the top row and click insert below. We actually don't need these extra cells so let's delete them. We'll place the cursor in the new row and click the delete command in the contextual layout tab.

We'll click delete rows to delete this row.

The same principle works for deleting columns so let's use the delete cells command instead. We'll access this from the right click menu.

We have a few different options here but we'll choose delete entire column.

Let's quickly experiment with some other options.

We'll click on the second cell on the top row and again select delete cells from the right click menu. We'll choose shift cells left and click okay.

Rather than leaving an empty space where the cell used to be, all cells to its right move to the left so that the row has one less cell than it did before. This isn't useful so we'll undo it. Let's try the other shifting options. We'll select the cell beneath the top right cell and delete by shifting cells up.

Similar to before, the cells beneath moved up.

However, unlike the previous option, this didn't reduce the number of cells in this column.

Instead, it inserted an empty cell at the bottom.

Let's undo this change and move onto merging and splitting cells.

We'll start by giving this table a top row with one column containing a title.

We'll insert a row above, select it and click merge cells.

We'll increase the row height, change the style to title, alignment to center and then type the title.

We can also add a new column layout in a single row. We'll do this to make a new row which organizes the column names into three categories.

We'll insert a row below the title and apply the normal style.

We'll then apply center alignment and slightly reduce the row height.

Next, we'll select the cell.

The quickest way of selecting an individual cell is to move the cursor to the bottom left corner until a small black arrow appears.

When we click, the cell is selected.

We'll navigate to the contextual layout tab and select split cells.

We'll choose three columns and click okay.

Our first category applies to the first two columns so we'll drag the first new column to line it up. The next category applies to the next three columns so we'll line up that column with the three columns below.

We'll call the three categories customer info, score and comments.

Notice that the text in these cells is sitting a little above the center line. This is because they're aligned top center. In normal text, alignment is horizontal only. In table cells, alignment is horizontal and vertical.

In this case, the horizontal alignment is center but the vertical alignment is top.

Top center looks a little strange here so we'll align center vertically as well. We'll select the entire row, navigate to the alignment group on the contextual layout tab and click the align center command.

With that, the lesson is now complete. In the next lesson, we'll use some basic formulas to create calculations using the columns containing numeric data.

Adding Bullet Points and Tables


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