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Before I joined the Word team, when I thought about tables in Word, I thought of something like this:
After about a year of working on Word 2007, when I thought about tables in Word, I thought of something like this—thanks to the contextual presentation of Table Styles in Word 2007:
Then, after some lunches with and lessons from our resident table experts, I started to think about the following when I thought about tables in Word (please forgive the typo in the second heading):
This mental shift occurred after our table experts introduced me to using tables as a layout tool to help spice-up my document and to position graphics relative to text or other graphics. I'm a big fan of adding a bit of spice to documents and using all sorts of graphics to help get my points across, so I've become a big fan of using tables to:
In the document above, the chunks of content in the upper left and lower right hand corners are tables. They don't look like tables because I fiddled with their borders a bit. Specifically, here's the same document with the chunks sans border fiddling:
Both chunks are really simple tables with the weight, color, and visibility of their borders customized. I did this by selecting the table, clicking on the Design tab of the Table Tools contextual tab, clicking on the Borders button, and the Borders and Shading option on the drop-down menu.
This gave me the following dialog that allowed me to customize the weight, color, and visibility of the borders. As you can see below I chose to show a 2 ¼ pt width dark red border on only the left and top of the first table.
I did something very similar with the other table. The only difference is that I specified to show only the border on the right and bottom sides of the table.
After the customization, I dropped in the content and that was it.
As you may remember from a previous post, Live Preview and Galleries make positioning pictures much easier in Word 2007. This being said, when I need to get real precise with more than one picture, a chart, headings, and text…its table time.
For example, here's the document from above "showing" the table I used to position the two pictures, chart, headings, and text in the middle of the document:
All I did here was to create a three-column two-row table. Then I merged the first two cells in the top row using the Merge Cells button on the Layout tab of the Table Tools contextual tab.
Then I put my content into the cells, sized the columns appropreately by clicking and dragging them, and then hid all the borders by clicking on the Design tab of the Tables Tools contextual tab, clicking the Borders button, and then clicking the No Border option.
When you write an email in Outlook 2007, you are actually writing in Word 2007.
This being said, the "Page" related Word commands are not available in Outlook 2007 email messages since emails aren't really made up of pages in the sense that Word documents are made up of pages (think 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper). So, if you have a long list of stuff in an email, you can't lay it out in columns like you do in Word (select the list, click on the Page Layout tab, click the Columns button, and click Three).
Before (in a document)
After (in a document)
But, you can put the list in a three column one row table and hide the table borders (as we discussed above).
Before (in an email)
After (in an email)
If you start using tables to spice-up the layout of your documents or as a tool to position graphics relative to text or other graphics, you'll start hiding your table borders frequently, and may become a fan of Table Gridlines. What are Table Gridlines? Table Gridlines show everywhere your borders would show if you didn't hide them, but Table Gridlines don't print. This makes them a great way to give yourself the context of table borders when editing your document, without affecting what you will print.
For example, below is the document I've talked about in this post with Table Gridlines showing. The Table Gridlines are the dotted blue lines where the table borders would be if they were showing.
Keep in mind that the document will print the same whether your Table Gridlines showing or not showing, so turn them on or off as you see fit by going to the Design tab on the Table Tools contextual tab, clicking the Borders drop down menu, and clicking the View Gridlines button [see screen shot below].
Hope this is useful.
Very useful. Keep up the good work guys.
Interesting and useful way of utilizing tables.
Questions: Why don't tables have "space before" and "space after" properties? Some tables need more than one header row. How do I get multiple header rows to repeat at the top of each page?
Hi Greg - Great questions. For your first question, are you referring to horizontal or vertical space? For your second, select the rows you’d like to repeat, click the “Layout” table of the Table Tools contextual tab, click Repeat Header Rows. The selected rows will now repeat. -Jonathan (MS)
Tables are great, but... Could you help me understand this little problem - when copying / pasting tables containing several types of data (one cell - picture, one cell - field, others - text) between documents, the results of the operation are erratic - sometimes the table is pasted formatted, with all types of cells appearing as in the original. Sometimes it's pasted as text only. It is unclear whether it happens on the Copy or Paste - looking at the clipboard toolbar, it sometimes appears as a mixed object (don't know how to explain; it shows the picture, and text in the entry), yet pasting it with Ctrl+V or Edit / Paste pastes it as text (although pasting it through the Clipboard toolbar works fine). Sometimes it is appeaars as text only in the toolbar, so no matter how you paste, the formatting is not preserved. Is there any special way clipboard works with tables? (Btw, selecting it via the little arrow icon in the top left corner).
Hi Ilya – Where are you pasting to? If you are pasting to other Word documents and have not changed your paste options, the table should look like it did in the original document (minus any changes to match the “Theme” or page layout of the new document). This being said, if you paste a rich table into a plain text email or paste the table immediately below another table, what you paste will not look like the original table. Short answer, how tables paste depends heavily on where you are pasting them, so any info you could provide around that would be helpful. -Jonathan (MS)
Jonathan - Pasting to another word document. Can you clarify the context of the word "theme"? But again, somethimes the copied table with, should we say, rich content, appears as plain text on the clibpoard (although, admittedly, it's tough to determine what it's like on the clipboard, save for looking at the clipboard toolbar icons). To be more spefic, here is the context of the chart: 1 column, 5 rows. Cell 1 - Image. Cell 2 - text field linked to an Excel document. Cells 3 through 5 - plain text. Now, we do use text styles; can that somehow impact copy / paste behavior? I am asking because I have found that most of the unexpected / unexplained functionality in Word typically links to a deeper and fundamental source that is invisible to most users because Word really uses complex concepts, but they are, mostly, presented in an easy-to-use environment with little exposed user control so as to improve general usability.
Hi Ilya – For more info on “Themes” check-out: blogs.msdn.com/.../default.aspx I’m not sure I can be too much help on the specific issue you are seeing. A general tip would be to look for the little clipboard “Paste Options” icon that shows up in the lower right-hand corner of the thing you pasted, and to use that to change how your table is pasted. Hope that helps. -Jonathan (MS)
Thanks, Jonathan. I gathered as much. I thought maybe it was more of a common behavior under certain situations, and not an isolated occurence. Another thing that I wish were a little more obvious with tables is their layout on the page once you are dealing with large tables. I.e., start with a large table with 4 cells per A4 page (layed out horizontally) spanning, say, four pages, delete a couple of the middle pages, and sometimes it "breaks up" the table with respect to per-page layout so to speak. How to page breaks work with taables? Are they a property of the document, the table, or both, depending on the context?
Ilya-- Page breaks are outside of the table and are considered a character within the document. In many ways, you can think of table itself as just another (very large) character. --Stuart
Stuart, So what happens when it's in a middle of a large table spanning several pages? If so, what happens when you delete cells in the middle of that table? Is Word pretty much trying to intelligently break up the table into two "characters" based on cell height that are then separated by the page break?
ilya-- Yes, I think that's a reasonable way to think about it. It's similar to what happens if you insert a page break into the middle of a long paragraph. What makes it a bit more complex is that we try to keep rows together (which can be a bit more of challenge with vertically merged cells). --Stuart
really great and useful tips. many thanks!