Making MS Word Tables work for you – Part 2

(The following text has been adapted from Wempen, F. (2013). Word 2013 In Depth. USA: Pearson Education, Inc.)

Continuing from last month’s table topic, making MS Word tables work for you, this blog includes three more tips when working with tables.

How to:

Indent a table

Within Word you cannot use the regular formatting tools to indent a table.  This is because generally tables do not behave the same way as a paragraph.  There are a couple of ways you can indent tables:

One is to drag the table to an indented position on your document. To do this, roll your mouse pointer over the table and select the table marker.  Then drag your table to where you want it.

drag a table

Figure 1: Select a table marker to drag a table

A more precise method of indenting your table is by using the Table Properties dialog box.

  • Click anywhere within the table you want to indent.
  • Right click and select Table Properties. (Table Properties dialog box displayed).
  • Make sure the Table tab is selected – see below.
  • Using the Indent from left control, specific how much of an indent to use for the table.
  • Click OK

Table properties dialog box

Set internal margins for an individual cell within a table

Depending on a cell’s content, you might need it to have different internal margins to the rest of the table.  To customise the internal margins for a selected cell, or a range of cells, follow the steps below:

  • Select the cell(s) to alter.
  • Right click and select Table Properties. Or on the Table Tools layout tab, click the Properties button.  The Table Properties dialog box is displayed.
  • Click the Cell tab and then click the Options (The Cell options dialog box opens.)
  • Clear the Same as the Whole Table check box. Individual internal margin settings become available for Top, bottom, Left, and Right, see the image below.

Table properties - cell margins

  • Mark or clear the check boxes as desired.
    • Wrap Text – if needed, this option allows text to wrap to additional lines in the cell.
    • Fit Text – if needed, this option reduces the size of the font to fit the text in the cell.
  • Click OK.

Examples of adjusted cell margins within a table

Insert a table caption

Long, complex reports often have multiple tables in them, numbered for reference.  You can manually number the tables and create your own captions for them, but it is much easier to allow Word to manage the table-captioning process.  That way, if you insert a new table earlier in the document, the tables that follow it are automatically renumbered.  Table captioning also makes for better accessibility for people using screen reading programs because it helps them determine the purpose and content of the table without having to read the whole table.

To add a caption to a table, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the entire table and right-click within the table and select Insert Caption. (The Caption dialog box opens.)

Set up a caption for tables in the documents

  1. Leave the Label setting at Table.
  2. In the Position list, choose where you want the captions to appear for tables. (Usually tables have captions above them.)
  3. The caption will read Table 1. If you want some other word than Table, click New Label and specify another word instead.
  4. Alternatively, to omit using a word at all before the number, check the Exclude Label from caption check box.
  5. Click the Numbering button. The Caption Numbering dialog box opens.

Control the numbering style for table captions

  1. Select a format from the Format list.
  2. (Optional) To include a chapter number with the caption, mark the Include Chapter Number check box, and then choose what style designates a chapter and what separator character should be used.
  3. Click OK to return to the Caption dialog box.
  4. Click OK. The caption appears in the document, immediately above (or below) the table.
  5. Click to the right of the caption and type a text description if desired. For example, after Table 1, you might type a colon (:) and then Sales for January, 2016, as displayed below.

A completed table caption with a manually typed description

Next time, sorting tabular data and inserting simple formulas.

If you would like a particular topic covered, or have any questions, please contact me,  ( )

Love to play, here’s a quote to validate your “playing” time.  “It’s play that makes people unafraid to fail and confident to try new things. It’s play that helps us do serious things better because we enjoy them and feel a sense of joy in our achievements.” — Jake Orlowitz, Head of the Wikipedia Library, Wikimedia Foundation.  Till next time ….. Heather

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