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Tables in Word

This can be very complex or very easy. This being a very formal tutorial, I decided to go the easy way. That’s a long shot from “All there is to know" about Tables and Style, but that’s nevertheless a good starting point.

Tables are an elegant way to organize information. (This web site is fully made with tables, by the way, although not in Word). You will have to create table to accommodate a number of things including financial statements, …but also more regular documents where several types of information must be related one to another, like a list of specs.

You should avoid using tabulations and these display differently on different computers, and could look like a mess on your *customer’s computer*

Realize that the border of a table is NOT necessarily visible. You should not add a visible table if the original document did not contain one, but using a table to display the information properly will be very appreciated. If the table you create has visible borders, select the table (with the mouse, top left corner), right click and select "Borders and shading", and click on " none".

To create a table, go to Table/Insert/Table. Type in the number of rows and columns, select if you want the table to adjust itself to the content, fit within the window or have a fixed column width. When you click OK, the table will appear at the insertion point.

However, much more interesting is the function to convert text into a table or the other way around. For instance, you have a tab-delimited TM (translation memory) and you want to display it nicely for reviewing purposes. Or you have a glossary in a table and you want to have it in tab delimited format to use it with your favorite CAT (almost all CATs will let you import a tab delimited glossary)

To convert text into a table, you must first prepare it. It should be in the following format:

Data Item Type 1 <tab> Data Item Type 2 ...<p mark>
Data Item Type 1 <tab> Data Item Type 2 ….<p mark>

In this example, <tab> stands for 1 tabulation and <p mark> is a paragraph mark. (Just press Enter)

The separator can be almost anything (a tab, a comma, a colon…) but must not already be part of the data, otherwise your data will be separated into different columns. The most usual separator is the tabulation. There must be only ONE separator between to types of data, unless you want to skip a column:

1 <tab> 2 <tab> 3
a <tab><tab> c

will become a table with 3 columns, and in the second line, the middle cell will be empty.

Once your text is ready to be converted (you will often use a Find and Replace to do that), go to Table/Convert/Text to Table

The Convert Text to Table window below will appear:

Go first the last section, “Separate text at", and select the separator you have chosen. (Tabs in the previous example).

You will see that Word calculates automatically the number of columns and rows that will be needed.

If this number does not match the table you want to get, you did a mistake at preparation time, usually because there are more separators then needed. In this case, cancel, correct your preparation and retry.

If the number of columns and rows is right, click OK and you will have your table. Check it, but if your preparation job was fine, you should be all right.

To convert a table to text, use the Table to Text dialog (Table/Convert/Table to Text), and follow the instructions. It's easier because there is no preparation to do. Just select what the table should be separated with, click OK and you are done.