Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default.

Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 15, 2013)

Ben said that he was having a problem with gridlines. He wanted them to be turned off (invisible) by default, but could not get that to occur.

The setting of the gridlines option is persistent from one session of Word to another. If you Hide Gridlines, that setting remains for future sessions with Word. The obvious way the setting is reset is if you have a macro that resets the option. If you are sure that the gridlines option is, indeed, being reset, then a startup macro is the first thing to check.

You do not see the command to hide gridlines until a table has focus, and even then it is rather obscure since it is not on the first tab displayed. When you click on a table, two conditional tabs are displayed on the ribbon: Design and Layout. The View Gridlines tool is found on the Layout tab, in the Table group. Clicking on the tool toggles the gridlines on and off. When the gridlines are enabled the control is highlighted.

One thing to check is whether you are possibly confusing gridlines with borders. When you insert a table into a document, Word adds borders to that table by default. Only if you remove the borders can you see the underlying gridlines, provided you turn off the display of gridlines. Borders print, but gridlines do not print; they are only visible for reference purposes.

If you want to turn off borders by default, you need to add a tool to the Quick Access Toolbar. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Customize (Word 2007) or Quick Access Toolbar (Word 2010 and Word 2013).
  3. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose Commands Not In the Ribbon. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Quick Access Toolbar portion of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Locate and select the Table AutoFormat Style command in the list of commands. (Don't select the Table AutoFormat command; make sure it is the Table AutoFormat Style command.)
  6. Click the Add button. The command moves to the right side of the dialog box.
  7. Click OK.

At this point you are ready to turn the borders off:

  1. Create a new, blank document.
  2. Click on the Table AutoFormat Style command on the Quick Access Toolbar. Word displays the Table AutoFormat dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Table AutoFormat dialog box.

  4. Scroll through the list of available Table Styles and choose Table Normal. The borders on the table shown in the preview area should disappear.
  5. Click on the Default button. Word displays a dialog box that asks how you want to set the default. (See Figure 3.)
  6. Figure 3. Choosing how table style defaults are applied.

  7. Click an option in the dialog box, depending on whether you want the change to apply to the current document or to all documents based on the template used to create the document in step 1.
  8. Click OK. Word sets the default as you specified.
  9. Close all the open dialog boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8618) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Hiding Table Gridlines, by Default.

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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