Applying Borders to Tables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 20, 2020)

When you add a table to your document, you may want to modify the borders that Word originally used for the table. You can do this by using any of the various methods that Word provides for modifying borders. Take your pick from the following:

  • When you select a table or put the insertion point in a table, the Table Design (Design in earlier versions of Word) tab is available on the ribbon. In the Table Design tab, look in the Table Styles group to find the Borders tool.
  • Another tab available when you select a table or put the insertion point in a table is the Layout tab. In the Layout tab, Table Group, click on the Properties command. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box. There is a Borders and Shading button on the dialog box.
  • The Borders control on the Home tab of the ribbon, in the Paragraph group also works on tables.
  • There is a Border Styles option on the context menu when you right click in a table.
  • The Draw Table and Eraser controls found in the Layout tab, in the Draw group allow you to add and remove table lines one cell at a time.

Clicking on the arrow of the various Borders tools drops down a list of ways to apply border lines to the whole table and individual cells.

As with gridlines, if borders are applied to the table cell that the cursor is in, the Borders control will be highlighted.

Even more interesting, if the current cell does not have a border applied, but there are borders applied to any cell in the table then at least one of the lines in the "table" in the Borders control icon in the ribbon will be solid. (It is a very subtle indicator, but it is there if you look closely.)

Note that at the very bottom of the Borders drop-down list there are options to display the Borders and Shading dialog and to toggle View Gridlines.

The Draw Table and Eraser tools are good for adding and removing one or two lines at specific locations in a table. The Borders group is the very last group on the Table Design tab of the ribbon. It has controls to set line thickness, style, and color. Clicking the Draw Table tool converts the mouse pointer to a pencil. Clicking on any line in an existing table makes that line the color, thickness, and style selected in the tool. Clicking and dragging between any two lines in the table cell will split the cells along that line. Use the Esc key to cancel the drawing mode. Clicking on the Eraser tool changes the mouse pointer into an eraser that deletes any cell lines that it touches. Again, the Esc key will cancel the eraser mode.

Whatever method you choose to create your borders, a little experimentation is in order. Don't be afraid to try out the numerous ways that Word provides to make your changes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8616) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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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