Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Resizing Table Columns with the Mouse.

Resizing Table Columns with the Mouse

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 28, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Word provides a variety of ways you can change the width of table columns using the mouse. The exact effect of each method depends on the version of Word you are using.

The simplest resizing you can do is to simply point to a column border with the mouse pointer and drag the border to a new location. Word adjusts the widths of the columns separated by the border.

If you hold down the Shift key as you drag a column border, the width of the column to the left of the border is changed, and the overall table width is adjusted accordingly. No other column widths are affected.

If you hold down the Ctrl key as you drag a column border, the width of the column to the left of the column border is adjusted, and the overall table width remains the same. All columns to the right of the table border are adjusted so they are wider or narrower in a proportional value.

If you hold down Shift+Ctrl as you drag a column border, the width of the column to the left is changed, the overall table width remains the same, and all column widths to the right are adjusted so they share equally in the remaining table width.

Holding down the Alt key as you drag a border adjusts columns the same as if you simply clicked and dragged a border. The only difference is that Word adds precise width notations in the Ruler area for each column. If you hold down Alt+Shift, you cannot drag any of the column borders in Word 2007 or Word 2010, but this keyboard combination does drag the column borders if you are using Word 2013 or a later version. If you hold down Alt+Ctrl or Alt+Shift+Ctrl, the effect is the same as just holding down Ctrl (or Shift+Ctrl), with the addition of the precise measurements.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3581) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Resizing Table Columns with the Mouse.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is two less than 3?

2023-09-10 04:07:20

Al dTrain

Is it possible to take a nothing-special table (say 4x4) with minimal content (say a single character in each cell), and then increase/decrease WITH THE MOUSE the HEIGHT of ALL ROWS IN THE TABLE ALL AT ONCE by: #1 selecting the table; #2 appropriately positioning the mouse pointer; and #3 appropriately dragging the double-headed vertical mouse pointer up or down? When I use this procedure to resize with the mouse all rows in the table all at once, only a single row becomes available for resizing despite the entire table having been selected for starters. After resizing the one available row, the other rows are still selected, and I can change the row height of the other rows individually row-by-row over and over. I'm using Word 2019 version 2308 on Windows 10 version 22H2. I'm familiar with methods offered by Table Properties, AutoFit, and the Cell Size group. The behavior I'm describing is observed on my home computer and on computers at work that run Microsoft 365 for enterprise on Windows 10. My recollection is that that what I want to do used to work which is what accounts for my surprise that it's not working now. All help is appreciated.

2020-01-02 03:37:54

Richard Curtis

I like to use the column markers in the horizontal ruler to adjust the width of the left column without affecting the widths of columns to the right. The column marker looks like a densely-packed grid. Hovering the marker changes the mouse symbol to a double-headed arrow and a Move Table Column pop-up is shown. Drag the marker to suit.

2019-12-28 13:40:29

David Cohen

Another way to control table columns, rows, etc is by way of the "Table Properties". You get there by highlighting the entire table (but nothing beyond table borders): run the cursor across the top of the table to capture the entire table. Right click (Table, in the main menu bar) to get lots of features. Table Properties is toward the bottom

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