Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Drop Shadows for Tables.

Drop Shadows for Tables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 30, 2019)

Word allows you to easily add borders to text and to entire paragraphs. You can even add borders to individual cells in a table. One of the preset borders you can apply to text and to paragraphs is for Shadow—it essentially creates a drop shadow that makes the text or paragraph appear as if it is hovering over the page. Unfortunately, when you add borders to tables; the Shadow option is not available. What if you want to add a drop shadow to your table?

If you understand how Word adds the drop-shadow effect to text and paragraphs, it is not that difficult to do the same thing with tables. The shadows are achieved by simply making the lines used for the right and bottom borders thicker than the lines used for the top and left borders. In other words, when you format your table borders, make sure that you select the right column and apply a heavy right-side border, then select the bottom row and apply a heavy bottom border.

If you want an even more realistic drop shadow for your tables, try these general steps:

  1. Insert a text box in your document.
  2. Insert your table inside the text box.
  3. Remove the borders from the table itself.
  4. Select the text box.
  5. Make sure the Format tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  6. Click the Shape Effects tool, in the Shape Styles group. Word displays various options.
  7. Hover the mouse pointer over the Shadow option. Word displays several different types of shadows from which you can choose.
  8. Select the type of shadow you want applied to the text box.

It may take some fiddling around, but you should be able to adjust the size of the table within the text box so that it takes up the entire text box. This approach works very well if you don't need internal grid borders visible in your table.

A third option is to simply make a light gray rectangle, as a graphic object, that is the same size as your table. This object can then be positioned slightly to the right of the table and slightly below it. You can then position the graphic object so it is behind the table, and it will appear as a drop shadow. If the gray object shows through the table in any manner, simply make sure that you fill the table with a solid color, such as white.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10192) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Drop Shadows for 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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