Working With Tables in Microsoft Word

Use tables to align columns and rows of text

Woman working on laptop computer.

RawPixel / PXHere

Aligning text in a word processing document can be tedious if you try to do it using tabs and spaces. With Microsoft Word, you can insert tables in your document to align columns and rows of text with ease. Learn how to work with tables in Word.

Instructions in this article apply to Word 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Word for Office 365.

Insert Table Method

Using the menu, you can opt to select or type in the desired number of columns and rows.

  1. Open a Word document.

  2. Select the Insert tab.

  3. Select Table in the Tables group.

    Screenshot of Table on Insert tab in Word
  4. Select Insert Table from the drop-down menu to open the Insert Table dialog box.

    To make a quick, basic table, drag your mouse across the grid to select the number of columns and rows you desire. Click to create the table.

  5. Enter the number of columns and rows you want in the table in the fields provided.

    Screenshot of Insert Table dialog box
  6. Enter a width measurement for the columns in the Autofit Behavior section of the Insert Table dialog or leave the field set to autofit to generate a table the width of the document.

  7. Select OK. The blank table appears in the document. If you want to add or delete rows or columns, you can do it from the Insert > Table drop-down menu.

  8. To change the width or height of the table, click on the lower right corner and drag to resize it.

When you select the table, the Table Design and Layout tabs will appear on the ribbon. Use them to style or make changes to the table.

Draw Table Method

Drawing a table in Word gives you more control over a table's proportions.

  1. With a Word document open, select the Insert tab.

  2. Select Table in the Tables group and select Draw Table, which turns the cursor into a pencil.

    Screenshot of Draw Table in Insert Table menu
  3. Drag down and across the document to draw a box for the table. The dimensions aren't critical because you can easily modify them.

    Screenshot of drawing a table in Word
  4. Click inside the box with your cursor and draw vertical lines for each column and horizontal lines for each row you want in your completed table. Windows places straight lines in the document for you.

  5. Style the table using the Table Design and Layout tabs.

Entering Text in a Table

No matter which of these methods you use to draw your blank table, you enter text in the same way. Just click in a cell and type. Use the tab key to move to the next cell or the arrow keys to move up and down or sideways within the table.

If you need more advanced options, or if you have data in Excel, you can embed an Excel spreadsheet in your Word document in place of a table.

Convert Text to Table

If you already have text in a document that you would prefer to work within a table, you can do so provided there are separator characters, such as commas or tabs, indicating where to divide the text into table columns. For instance, if you have a list of people's names and addresses, inserting a tab between each name and corresponding address will make it easy to create a table.

  1. Open the Word document containing the text you want to convert into a table and select that text.

  2. Select the Insert tab.

  3. Select Table in the Tables group.

    Screenshot of Convert Text to Table in Insert Table menu
  4. Select Convert Text to Table. The Convert Text to Table dialog box will open with default settings listed.

    Screenshot of Convert Text to Table dialog box
  5. Make any changes you require and select OK to create the table.

    Screenshot of text converted to table and Convert to Text option on Layout tab
  6. To revert the table to text, go to the Layout tab and select Convert to Text in the Data group.