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: Tables within Tables.

Tables within Tables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 9, 2014)

2

Word allows you to place one table within another table, which can be handy for some complex document layouts. To place a table within a table, follow these steps:

  1. Place your major table, as desired. Make sure that it has the number of rows and columns that you desire, and that you merge any cells that you want merged.
  2. Put the insertion point in the cell that you want to contain the secondary table.
  3. Insert your secondary table using any of the regular table insertion tools provided by Word.

That's it; the secondary table should be completely within the cell in which the insertion point was located in step 2. You may notice that the top and bottom borders of the secondary table you inserted are very close to the top and bottom borders of the cell in which the table was placed. If you want more separation between the cell and table borders, modify your creation steps just slightly:

  1. Place your major table, as desired. Make sure that it has the number of rows and columns that you desire, and that you merge any cells that you want merged.
  2. Put the insertion point in the cell that you want to contain the secondary table.
  3. Display the Layout tab of the ribbon.
  4. Click the Properties tool, in the Table group. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  5. Make sure the Cell tab is displayed.
  6. Click the Options button. Word displays the Cell Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  7. Figure 1. The Cell Options dialog box.

  8. Clear the Same As the Whole Table check box.
  9. Using the controls just under the check box, specify the margins you want used within the cell.
  10. Click OK twice to dismiss both dialog boxes. The insertion point should still be in the cell where you want to place the secondary table.
  11. Insert your secondary table using any of the regular table insertion tools provided by Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9947) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Tables within Tables.

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 5 + 0?

2014-08-11 08:40:25

Jennifer Thomas

Peter is correct - a table within a table (a 'nested table') is fine if this is in a document that will never be copied from, saved as a new version, converted to a different Word version, compared as a redline, or converted to PDF.

But if you intend to do any of the above, it is much better to split the cells as needed (drawing tools for tables can be the most efficent for creating that complex structure) because that leaves the table as one object, which is much more stable, especially in cross-application or cross-version functions.


2014-08-11 03:45:50

PeterJ

I think there are two disadvantages with this approach. Firstly, you are using a nested structure, I suspect that Word is not always good at these. Secondly, by default you get a small gap round the embedded table (but this might be what you want).

There is an alternative method, instead of inserting a nested table why not split the cell? The result on the page can be identical. The difference is that Word only sees one table.

Does anyone have any views – or better still evidence – to say which is the more stable and hence better approach?


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