Indenting and Inserting Tables within Tables in Word

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Sometimes Word documents can have complex layouts and formats. Tables are a great way to organize and streamline things. The different cells in the tables can organize text, images, and in fact, other tables as well! This article will teach you how to place tables within tables and how to indent entire tables using a few different methods.

People nest tables within tables in order to add white space to a document and make it more readable. We will use a table that outlines a tutorial procedure and create a nested table for it.

Try the Copy/Paste Method

The first step is to insert the main table into the Word document. This table lists the procedure steps. We typed out Step 1 and hit Enter. Next, we will insert a nested table, which will list circumstances that call for choosing each option. We hover the cursor right at the spot we want the nested table to be.

If we right away insert a table here, it will work, but there may be formatting errors. For instance, the bottom of the nested table may line up with the top of the main table, creating a cluttered look. We would have to expand the cell margins to clean this up.

We’ll just hit Ctrl + Z to undo that nested table. Then we will expand the margins of the main table in preparation for the nested table. To do this, we need to make sure the cursor is in the cell that will house the nested table.

In the case that we knew we were going to need to expand several cells, we would expand the margins of multiple cells at once.

Enter Layout Settings

Our example just needs to expand one cell. So, we will go to Layout then click on Table then click on Properties then click on Cell then click on Options. This will open the Cell Options menu. Go to Cell margins and uncheck the box that says Same as the whole table. This will enable the edit boxes for the Top, Bottom, Right, and Left of the cell. Word 2016 automatically sets these cell margins as “0” for Top and Bottom and “0.06” for Left and Right.

We need to enter new values for the cell margins, particularly the Top and Bottom. We’ll try a value of “0.01” for all the margins and hit OK. This takes us back to the “Properties” box, so we’ll hit OK again and it should close.

Insert the Nested Table

Now let’s insert a nested table into the main table. See how evenly it sits within the main table?

We could add borders or shading, or even merge/split the cells to enhance the aesthetic even more. There is also the option of freezing the cell sizes or creating multiple cell layers in the nested table. However, this last option is tricky, because too many layers create a messy look. 

How to Indent an Entire Table in Microsoft Word

You have no doubt encountered Table formatting errors in Word before. One of the trickiest things to do is figuring out how to indent a table without messing up the formatting of your text. Tables are automatically aligned with the left margin but you cannot indent tables with the paragraph (text formatting) tools.

Method 1 - Table Handle

The first method we will use requires you to use the table handle in the upper-left corner of the table. Move your mouse to the top corner of the table, then click and hold the handle. Next, you want to drag it in the direction that you want to indent the table in.

Method 2 - Table Properties

While the first method is a great option for quick indentations, it is a bit tricky to get precise measurements. This second option requires you to right click on the table handle in the upper corner just like you did in the last method. Next, select Table Properties from the popup menu.

This will open up the "Table Properties" dialog box. In this window you need to click on the Table tab and click in the Indent from left box. Next, you want to enter the value in inches (you can always change the measurements if you don't want the default to be set to inches) that you want to indent your table.