Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Selecting a Column or Row in a Table.

Selecting a Column or Row in a Table

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 25, 2019)


There are two ways to select a column within a table:

  • Position the insertion point in any cell within the column, display the Layout tab of the ribbon, then click Select | Select Column.
  • Move the mouse cursor just above the column you want to select. It will turn into a downward pointing arrow. Click on the left mouse button.

The two ways to select a row within a table are very similar:

  • Position the insertion point in any cell within the row, display the Layout tab of the ribbon, then click Select | Select Row.
  • Move the mouse cursor just to the left of the row you want to select, and then click on the left mouse button.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10341) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Selecting a Column or Row in a Table.

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 four less than 5?

2019-10-27 13:04:17

Damian R Castaneda

I just answered my own question. I am using remote access to access my computer which replaces my computer cursor with it's own cursor. The remote access cursor doesn't ever change to show a downward or right pointing arrow. It still works if I am at the outer edge of a column or cell, but you can't see the downward or right pointing arrow. The remote access program has a "show remote cursor" feature. But that still doesn't show the downward or right pointing arrow

2019-10-27 12:48:34

Damian R Castaneda

The downward pointing arrow doesn't appear when trying to select a column, and neither does the right pointing arrow when trying to select a row. And yes, I'm doing it right. I've been using Word since 1991. It's just not appearing.

I'm using Word for Office 365, version 1909, build 12026.20334.

2019-10-06 09:26:32

Chris Mitchell

Thank you - this does indeed work. However, it frustrated me for ages, because in their infinite wisdom, Microsoft thought it would be an excellent idea to have not one, but two, menu choices called "Layout". So the Word menu reads "File... Home... Insert... Design... Layout..." and so on and then "...Help... Table Design... Layout".

Yes - there are TWO "Layout" choices, and both have entirely different options. The "Layout" you need to click is the second one on the list, not the first one. Who on earth thought it good idea to create two different menu options with the same name?

2016-09-08 12:01:58


Sorry. Line 5 of the following tip should read:
Select the Header cell and then Ctrl+Space gets Header and Data.

2016-09-08 11:57:53


Selecting a column in a table depends on where the cursor is located and if you want just the data or the whole column.

Move the mouse cursor to the top edge of the column you want to select. It will turn into a downward pointing arrow. Click on the left mouse button to select the data only, double click to get the data and header.
Using the keyboard only:
Select the Header cell and then Ctrl+Shift gets Header and Data.
Select any other cell in the column and then Ctrl+Space selects the column of data, Ctrl+Space again to select the Header and Data.

To select an entire row with the keyboard just select any cell in the row and Shift+Space.

Multiple columns or rows can be selected by highlighting the number of adjacent cells and then using the appropriate Shift+Space for rows or Ctrl+Space for Columns.

2015-07-14 14:38:26

Linda M


Perhaps splitting your table will work. Table Tabs > Layout> Split Table--under Merge options on the ribbon. Once you have modified your column(s), you could place your cursor at the split and press delete to rejoin the table.

2015-07-14 11:36:11


If you have cells merged at the top, this seems to select groups of columns instead, perhaps not surprisingly.

Anyway around that?

2015-07-13 08:49:16

Calvin Wilson

You can also select a column with the following steps:

Click in any cell in the column.
Press/hold Shift.

2015-07-11 18:36:57


Layout tab.

Some tabs appear on the ribbon just in time to help you perform a specific job. These a known as contextual tabs.

On example are the Table Tools Tabs. These will only appear when your insertion point is clicked and active within a table cell.
The Table Tools appears as a coloured banner over two tabs labelled Design and layout.

You only see these when you are editing within a table.


2015-07-11 18:26:35


Hello Ann
Open a word document that contains a table.
A cell is formed where a table column and row intersect.
Insertion point is a name for the edit cursor. The edit cursor is the I beam shaped character that follows the mouse pointer on screen within the document. All typing and deleting of text appears at the position of the insertion point (cursor)
The ribbon is the collection of buttons across the top of your screen in the current version of MS Word.
The ribbon buttons are grouped and displayed under a series of notebook like index tabs. Some of these tabs are named Home, Insert, Page layout.
The Layout tab (Page layout) is one collection of buttons that make up the ribbon.

2015-07-11 16:40:59


Thank you for the info. about columns etc.

My problem is that I don't understand any of the terminology used. e.g. Position the insertion point in any cell within the row????

1 What do I do to get to that stage?
2 What is a cell?
3 What is an insertion point?
4 What is a layout tab?
5 What is a ribbon?

I need instructions from A - Z!!!

I just want to show you that you aren't helping someone who knows almost nothing about Word - you are only helping those who have a good grounding already.

2015-07-11 11:42:07

Carol Saller

Good tips!

I've also found that for selecting a row, you can hover at the far left side of any cell in that row until the arrow appears and then double click. If you're working in a large table, it can be faster than going to the far left of the row.

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