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Working with tables in the new Word

Today’s post comes from Caitlin Ashley-Rollman, the program manager on the Word team responsible for improving our Tables experience.

It’s all about the little things. 

For this release of Word, we wanted to make your lives a little bit easier by simplifying the tasks you do every day. Since tables play an important role in many documents, they seemed like a good place to start. In our improvements to tables for the new Word, we focused on making it easier for you to create and format basic tables. 

Adding rows and columns

When we started looking into the most common things people do to tables, adding new columns and rows was at the top of the list. 

As a result, we added insert controls that appear right outside your table between two existing columns or rows. Just click on it when it appears, and a new column or row will be inserted at that location.

Screenshot of the UI that appears between rows or columns to quickly insert a new one

If you know you want more than one column or row, just select the number you want to insert and click the insert control on the edge of the selection—it’s that easy.

Formatting improvements

In addition to adding new content, an important part of working with tables is getting them to look the way you want. 

New table styles

The formatting of the tables in your document can have a huge impact on how polished and professional it looks. To help you pick the right design, we’ve changed the organization of the table styles gallery so that you can easily pick between table styles that work well for presenting lists and those that are designed for data in a grid. In addition, we refined the table styles themselves—including adding a few basic black and white styles for those times when you want the table to sit quietly in your text.

Screenshot showing the Ribbon gallery of new Table Styles

Direct formatting

While Table Styles can be a good start to formatting your table, they aren’t specific to your content so you may find that you want to make a few tweaks. For example, sometimes you want to outline a specific cell, or create separate sections within a single table. From user feedback, we know the current methods have intricacies that make the process seem more complicated than it needs to be. With this in mind, we created three new features to make the experience quicker, easier, and more natural.

 

Border Painter


First, we created a new tool called the Border Painter that is designed to make it easy for you to apply formatting to specific borders in your table. Just choose your formatting, then with the Border Painter active, click on any table border to apply the formatting. You can also click and drag your mouse to apply the formatting to a whole line.

 

Screenshot showing new UI for the new Border Painter tool

 

For those of you who have used the Draw Table tool, this is essentially the same thing except it doesn’t create new cells so you can apply formatting with confidence.

 

Borders Gallery


Second, we now have a gallery of pre-created borders that are designed to work with the new table styles. This gallery combines border widths, colors, and sizes so you choose everything with one click. Just like table styles, they will change color if you change your theme so they always match.

 

Screenshot showing the gallery of border styles

 

Once you pick a border, we’ll automatically turn on the Border Painter tool so you can go right to applying the formatting to your table.

 

The handiest part of this gallery is the recently used section that displays all the borders you’ve applied in the current session of Word. It’s great when you need to reuse a few different border styles.

Border Sampler

Probably my favorite feature this release is the border sampler (located at the bottom of the Border Styles gallery). I like to think of it as an eyedropper tool for table borders – all you need to do is activate the tool then click on a table border that you want to sample. It’ll capture the border’s formatting and automatically switch you to the Border Painter tool so you can apply it somewhere else.

That’s all folks

I hope you enjoy the new features and, more importantly, find tables in Word 2013 more enjoyable to work with. Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Picture of the Tables feature crew members

The Tables feature crew is excited to share all this work with you!

 

Join the conversation

10 comments
  1. Sounds great!!!

    Will table-styles handle tableheaders with more than one row correctly in word 2013? In Word 2010 i am a little bit disappointed by the fact, that when i specify that the first two rows of a table should be repeated on every page, table-styles didn’t recognise that the header of this table consists two rows. So only the first row is formated as header. To correct this, would also be a great feature ;-).

    • yes, this is really bothering. i think it would be great if microsoft add a functionality of letting users choose rows as the header.

    • Sebgr,

      We did do some work to improve the interaction of table styles with multiple header rows. Without knowing more, I can’t promise that this will fix the issue you were seeing but it may. Give it a try and let me know how it goes 

      Caitlin
      Program Manager
      Microsoft Word

      P.S. For readers who haven’t used this feature, you can create multiple header rows in your table by selecting the first N rows of your table and turning on “Repeat Header Rows” from the Table Tools Layout tab.

  2. Great improvements!

    Is there any good reason the new methods for inserting rows/columns don’t let you add a row above the top, or to the left of the table? I appreciate you’re less likely to add rows or comments there, but I needed to today, and it felt a bit odd to be forced to use the right-click method for that.

  3. Cool Features. Great team! Best wishes :)

  4. i really think you should add the row/column inserting functionality thing into excel, cause it’s a tricky thing to insert rows or columns in excel.
    And, i really want to know how to input texts above and below the diagonal border in a cell? cause it’s really important in some occasion.

  5. I use tables quite a lot because when I use the "Column" function the text doesn’t align perfectly, and just as I want it to.. Columns present a slight problem with me, Tables don’t.

  6. Hello,

    I have a question regarding the new table features in Word 2013. In previous versions if I wanted to move rows up or down, I could do this very easily. I just had to select the entire row I want to move, than drag it and place the cursor exactly before the first word in the first cell of the row, which had to be immediately BELOW the new position of the row I want to move. In Word 2013 this works as well, but whenever I do this I have the side effect the after I move a row all columns get the same width (distribute columns evenly), so that very time I move a row, I have to change back the original width of every column. Do you have an idea how I can fix this?

    • Also, I forgot to mention that this problem only happens when I try to move a row from a lower position to a higher position, e.g. move row 10 above row 5. In the opposite direction everything works as in Word 2010.

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