You can use your favorite social network to register or link an existing account:
Or use your email address to register without a social network:
Sign in with these social networks:
Or enter your username and password
Forgot your password?
Yes, please link my existing account with for quick, secure access.
No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.
Table Styles are my favorite type of Style in Word. They allow you to quickly and consistently format the table itself (e.g. borders, shading, etc.), the content within the table (E.g. line spacing, font color, font size, etc.), and they can also can tell a table when to do these (e.g. shade every other row, bold text in the first column, etc.). The first two enable you to create really rich tables, and the last one (which I'll call Conditional Formatting for the rest of this post) enables you to easily work with those rich tables. Both are quite important.
Before we can get into all that, you need to know a bit about how Word thinks about tables…
Word understands all of the following as discrete actionable parts of a table:
This is cool because it allows Table Styles to specify a conditional behavior for each of these parts. For example, in the table below, the Header Row and Total Row have top and bottom blue borders and are bolded, the Odd Banded Rows have blue shading, and the First Column and Last Colum are bolded.
And it is important to note that this is not the same as saying:
The former is formatting applied based on a table structural condition being true…i.e. Conditional Formatting. The latter is formatting directly applied to parts of the table. This makes a big difference when you start adding and subtracting rows and columns.
Let's consider a simpler example using two tables—X and Y—where X uses a Table Style and Conditional Formatting and Y uses direct formatting.
Table Style + Conditional Formatting on the Header Row, First Column, Total Row, and Odd Banded Rows
Two rows added under "Monday," "Wednesday," "Friday"
As Table X grew, the formatting specified by the Table Style adjusted conditionally based on the new structure of the table. As Table Y grew, the new rows were directly formatted just like the row next to them. Smiley for the former, frowny for the later.
Exercise: The first table shown in this post—the one with the colleges—uses a Table Style with Conditional Formatting. How would that table look if you added a row to top and bottom, and a column to the left and right side? See the end of this post for the answer.
Hopefully the previous example shows you why the Conditional Formatting aspect of Table Styles is so important. After all, what good is a rich table if you have to do a bunch of work every time you add a row or column?
That being said, the next question that comes to mind is around order of operations. Specifically, what is the order in which Conditional Formatting is applied in tables? I.e. In the previous example, how did Table X know that the Conditional Formatting for the First Column and Header Row should be applied "over" the shading on the Odd Banded Rows? Put yet another way, how did Word know not to make Table X look like this:
The answer is that Word shows Conditional Formatting on "smaller" parts over Conditional Formatting on "bigger" parts. We do this because otherwise you wouldn't see the Conditional Formatting on the smaller parts. If we don't show the Header Row (smaller) over the Odd Banded Rows (larger), then you don't see the Header Row (e.g. funky table immediately above). If we do show the Header Row (smaller) over the Odd Banded Rows (larger), then you see both the Header Row and the Odd Banded Rows (e.g. Table X).
With that, here's the order that Word applies Conditional Formatting:
Note: Conditional Formatting on the four corners is only applied if the respective rows and columns also use Conditional Formatting. E.g. Top Left Cell Conditional Formatting is only applied if First Column and Header Row are conditionally formatted.
We go from big to small and conditionally format the whole table, then band the columns, move on to band the rows, gussy-up the header row and total row, take care of the first and then last column, and finish-up in the four corners.
If you want to get your hands dirty and create your very own Table Style, simply insert a new table, drop the Table Styles Gallery, and click New Table Style at the bottom of the Gallery.
Note: If you really want to flex your Table Style muscles, you can specify the number of rows or columns in a "band." E.g. Instead of having one row per band like the tables in this post, you can specify that there should be two rows per band by dropping the Table Styles Gallery, clicking Modify Table Style, click the Format button, and click Banding.
While you may not now have the same undying love for Table Styles that I have, you hopefully now know that:
- Jonathan Bailor
I agree that table styles are pretty cool, but one thing really bugs me: there's no way I can find to specify that an inline table (no text wrapping) should always have a certain amount of vertical space after it, before the next paragraph's text begins. Paragraph styles let you set before and after "spacing." Why not table styles? I've only been able to achieve this by adding blank paragraphs (which is poor document design) or enabling text wrapping, which doesn't really work well for the kinds of inline tables I'm talking about.
Table styles are great, but they do not handle multirow headings well. If I specify a bottom border for the heading row, Word adds that border to every row within the heading rows or, when a cell is split into two rows, to the upper cell or row of the heading rows. I can specify the line weights and colors for internal lines in the heading rows, but I have to apply them manually. I very much agree about the before and after spacing on tables. I use an empty, 7 point "total" row with no borders except at the top to get this spacing. But I think being able to specify the spacing as you can with wrapped tables would be better. PamC
Table styles still seem to have a lot of problems. For one thing, they don't allow you to link text styles to the tables, which means your text styles and table styles fight one another for control of the display of the table. I would like to have, for example, a text style called "Table Header" which always comes in on the first row. Secondly, the application of the style seems to be hit-or-miss; sometimes I apply the table style, but some of the settings I've created (like show header row at the beginniing of each page) don't get applied. Furthermore, certain fonts are just not allowed in the table style; Arial 10, which is my company's standard font and size, is forbidden in the table style. It seems a shame - a lot of work probably went into developing these styles and these little kinks render them almost unusable.
Great article. The one thing I can't seem to do right is setting up border on a Table Style. Is there a particular order or trick to it? I usually set up the box around the table first, then move onto header row and banding. Making any changes to borders for header row/column or to odd/even row/column changes everything else. To make matters worse, any border settings on those elements seems to over ride the border around the table applied via Whole Table. (I know... "should be using InDesign" - unfortunately that is an impossibility in public sector proposals.)
I had no idea that word could identify that many discrete row and column specific attributes.
If I want to create a table style in the gallery how do I tell word each of those attributes.
How about a link to how to save a table style to the table style gallery?