Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Shading Table Rows.

Shading Table Rows

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 26, 2015)

In Excel it is possible to use conditional formatting to shade every other row (or every nth row) of a data table. You may want to accomplish the same task in Word, and the program provides several approaches you can take. One approach is to use some of the predefined table styles that Word makes available. Follow these steps:

  1. Create your table as you normally would.
  2. Place the insertion point somewhere within the table.
  3. Make sure the Design tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  4. Using the thumbnails in the Table Styles group, click one that uses shading on the table rows.

Many of the table formats are "smart," meaning that they can adjust row shading even if you add new rows to the table. How is this done? Glad you asked; that leads to the second method of shading table rows—creating your own table styles.

Styles have been available in Word for years and years. You can define a table style that automatically applies shading to either the even or odd rows in a table. (This is how the Table AutoFormats do it.) Follow these steps:

  1. Place the insertion point somewhere within a table.
  2. Make sure the Design tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. At the right side of the thumbnail images in the Table Styles group you'll notice up and down arrows. Under this is a drop-down arrow. Click it to display the full range of table styles defined in Word.
  4. Click the New Table Style option. Word displays the Create New Style from Formatting dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.

  6. Using the Apply Formatting To drop-down list, choose Odd Banded Rows or Even Banded Rows, depending on whether you want this style to apply to odd or even rows.
  7. Use the controls in the dialog box to set the formatting you want applied to the rows.
  8. Set the style name and other properties, as desired.
  9. Click OK.

You've now created a shading style for either odd or even rows. You can apply this style to the table, as desired. The formatting automatically adjusts as you change the number of rows in the table.

The solutions described so far work great if you want to apply formatting to every other row in a table. They don't work so well if you want the formatting applied to every third, fourth, or fifth row. In this instance it may be best to use a macro to do your formatting. The following is a good example of a macro that can apply shading to every third row in a table:

Sub ShadeRows()
    Dim iRow As Integer
    Dim iHeads As Integer
    Dim iRowTtl As Integer

    If Selection.Information(wdWithInTable) = True Then
        iHeads = InputBox(prompt:="Number of heading rows?", _
          Title:="Headings", Default:="1")

        iRowTtl = Selection.Tables(1).Rows.Count - iHeads
        For iRow = 1 To iRowTtl
            If iRow Mod 3 = 0 Then
                Selection.Tables(1).Rows(iRow + iHeads).Shading.Texture _
                  = wdTexture20Percent
            Else
                Selection.Tables(1).Rows(iRow + iHeads).Shading.Texture _
                  = wdTextureNone
            End If
        Next iRow
    End If
End Sub

The macro asks how many header rows are in the table, and then adjusts the rows to which it applies shading. If the insertion point is not within a table when the macro is run, then nothing happens. You can also change the frequency of shading (for instance, from every third row to every fourth) by changing the Mod formula. Simply change the single line, in this manner:

            If iRow Mod 4 = 0 Then

You can also change the amount of shading by changing the wdTexture20Percent constant to another, such as wdTexture5Percent, wdTexture10Percent, wdTexture25Percent, etc.

You should also understand that if you run the macro on a table where cells have been merged vertically, you may get unexpected results, if any. If you change the number of rows in a table, then you will need to run the macro again to reapply the shading.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6699) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Shading Table Rows.

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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