Getting Rid of Trailing Spaces in Table Cells

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 13, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Randy works with tables regularly in his documents. It is not uncommon for cells in a table to have trailing spaces. Randy wonders if there is a way to find and delete any trailing spaces in a table.

Perhaps the easiest way to get rid of trailing spaces in table cells is to follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells within the table that you want to affect.
  2. Press Ctrl+E. Word centers all the text in the table cells and, at the same time, removes any trailing spaces.
  3. Press Ctrl+L. Word now aligns all your text at the left of the cell.

This process sounds simple, but there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind. First of all, you cannot select the entire table in step 1. If you do so, then Ctrl+E (step 2) centers the table, not the contents of the cells within the table. If you want to get rid of trailing spaces in all cells, then make sure you select just the cells and not the end-of-row markers that appear to the right of the rightmost column in the table.

Another caveat is to understand that if you are using styles for the text within the table, these steps can mess up those styles because you are applying explicit formatting (centering and then left justifying) over the top of whatever the style may specify for the text. So, if you are using styles, you may want to press Ctrl+Q instead of Ctrl+L in step 3. This returns the paragraph formatting within the table to whatever is appropriate for the styles that are applied to the text in the table.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9994) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 one less than 8?

2024-01-13 10:51:19

Ann Olmsted

Thank you! I've been looking for a simple way to remove those trailing spaces quickly for a very long time.

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