Tables are a Word tool that everyone needs to use at some point to organize otherwise unruly text and numbers. From timetables to rosters to invoices to calendars, all kinds of projects are based on tables.
Although tables are simple to create in Word, you can do lots of things with them. When you need to total a column of numbers in a table, don’t bother fetching a calculator—let Word add them automatically. If your tables span multiple pages, don’t painstakingly add the column headings to each page—make Word do it for you. In this article I’ll show you ten secrets for working with tables in Microsoft Word.
1. Have Word Do the Math
If you need to total a column of figures in a table, Microsoft Word can do the math. Once you’ve drawn the table, click in a cell in a column of numbers where you want the column total to appear. Go to Table Tools > Layout, and click Formula. If =SUM(ABOVE) does not automatically appear in the Formula dialog box’s Formula field, type it there. Select a format from the 'Number format' list—I chose #,##0 to get a whole number result—and click OK. Word will automatically insert the total into the cell.
If you later change any of the values that contribute to the total, click in the cell where the formula field code resides and press F9. You can also press Ctrl-A to select the entire document and then press F9 to update all of the field codes in the document.
2. Place Table Headings on Every Page
When you have a large table that spans multiple pages, it’s useful to make the table's heading rows repeat at the top of each page. This arrangement ensures that anyone viewing a page can see clearly what each column contains without having to refer back to the top of the table.
First select the heading rows to be repeated. You can select multiple rows, but they must be consecutive and they must appear at the top of the table. In the Table Tools > Layout tab, click Repeat Header Rows.
You won’t necessarily see any immediate difference in your table when you do this; but once the table grows beyond one page, the heading rows will automatically repeat at the top of each subsequent page.
3. Create Business Cards and Name Badges
You might be surprised to learn that you can easily lay out business cards and name badges using Word tables. You must first determine which paper stock to use, so that the table will print correctly.
In Word, you configure business cards and name badges the same way you do sheets of sticky labels, so start with a new empty Word document and click Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Labels. In the Label Options dialog box, select the type of printer you’re using, the label vendor, and then the product number (the 'Product number' list includes not only labels but also business-card stock and name badges). Your label manufacturer might not be on the list; in that case, look over the label packet to see if it claims to have a similar layout to another manufacturer's product, and tell Word to use that product number instead. If you cannot find a match anywhere, click New Label and configure the settings for your paper.
Once you’ve selected the correct paper, click OK; a new table will appear in your document. The table layout will match the layout of your paper stock, but the gridlines you see won’t print. Create your business cards or name badges, one per cell table, and print them on your paper stock.
Next Page: Make Table Rows the Same Height