Spacing Before and After Tables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 21, 2013)


Anne is having problems getting the spacing above and below her tables to work properly. The paragraph styles she uses for her document body have 6 points before and 6 points after, which provides an aggregated 12 points between paragraphs. However, this spacing doesn't seem to apply (at least not properly) before and after tables. She is looking for the best way to control spacing before and after tables.

There are only two ways to adjust the spacing, and the method you use depends on how the table itsef is formatted within your document.

Tables can be either inline or not, the same as text boxes and graphics. When you insert a table it is, by default, inserted inline. You can adjust spacing before and after a table my making it non-inline, which is a particularly good approach if your table extends across the entire width of the page. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the table. Word displays a Context menu.
  2. Select Table Properties from the Context menu. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Table tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Table tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  5. In the Text Wrapping area, click the Around icon. The Positioning button is activated.
  6. Click the Positioning button. Word displays the Table Positioning dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Table Positioning dialog box.

  8. Adjust the Top and Bottom settings to reflect how much space you want left before and after the table. (If your table doesn't extend the entire width of the page, you should also adjust the Left and Right settings.)
  9. Click OK to close the Table Positioning dialog box.
  10. Click OK to close the Table Properties dialog box.

There is one drawback with this approach: Your table now is treated as an independent element in the document, which means that text can flow around it. If you need the table to always be after a particular paragraph, then you'll want to check after any heavy editing that it is still where you expect it to be.

If you want your table to remain inline, then the proper approach to take is to adjust the spacing on the paragraph immediately before the table and the paragraph immediately after the table. If you are using styles, as Anne does, the easiest way to do this is to create two additional styles based on whatever body style you are using in your document. One style would be for the paragraph before the table and the other for the paragraph after.

For instance, let's say you create two styles called TableBefore and TableAfter. You could format the TableBefore style so that the Space After setting is however-many points you want to appear between the text and the table. You can then format the TableAfter style so that the Space Before setting is likewise reflective of the space you want after the table. Apply the styles appropriately, and your table should appear "spaced" properly.

It should be noted that it does no good to try to adjust the spacing of any of the paragraphs within the table, particularly if the table has borders visible. That will only adjust the spacing within the table cell in which the paragraph is located and won't affect the actual space between the table and the surrounding paragraphs.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11729) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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 six more than 2?

2017-11-27 13:52:54

John M

Allen says, “If you want your table to remain inline, then the proper approach to take is to adjust the spacing on the paragraph immediately before the table and the paragraph immediately after the table.”

If your table needs to stay inline and your table does not have (top/bottom) borders, you can cheat by setting white (top/bottom) borders equal in width to the desired space.

This lets you avoid creating and managing the extra paragraph styles Allen describes.

2017-04-25 05:42:27

Christian Land Hansen

What i f I need to remove spacing between two tables, and still have word treating the tabes as two tables?
My goal: I want row nb. 2 to be shown as Top row on all followong pages.

2017-03-29 15:15:40


Fantastic, THANK YOU ! Very well explained. I was having trouble with a table that was displaying several lines below the title. I had to change the positioning of the table defaults ! It worked, THANK YOU !

2016-05-10 07:18:13


I need to make a space between two tables row and I don't want the space row to be a table.
Word 2010

Thank you

2016-01-18 00:51:37

Stephan Blackford

You wrote at the top of this page that spacing before and after paragraphs aggregates (or sums) between both the paragraph above and the paragraph below. But i checked it out and it doesn't seem to sum in Word 2010.
Word seems to just check that the greater one is satisfied.

2015-10-13 12:52:24

Paul Franklin Stregevsky

The behavior you've described is called called HTML auto spacing. In Word 2007 and 2010, you can disable it by File > Option > Advanced > Layout Options. ? > Don't use HTML paragraph autospacing. But like so many Word settings, that setting may contend with a competing setting set elsewhere--say, for Normal or tables.

2015-10-12 22:51:11


Thank you for the valuable tips. Cheers

2013-09-25 10:21:01


Is the spacing between 2 paragraphs the result of some deep hidden selection? Word 2010 on my computer will use the larger of the after setting on the preceding paragraph and the before setting on the current paragraph.

2013-09-24 08:30:54

Doug Vetter

Hi Allen. Thanks for your interest in my comment. I use Word 2007 and determined this behavior through experimentation. When setting up templates, understanding this behavior allows greater flexibility in how paragraphs interact. I use 6 points before and 6 points after on my body text, and 0 points after on my headings. I have an optional subheading style that uses 0 points before and 6 points after. So the spacing between headings and body text is 6 points, and the spacing between body text paragraphs is 6 points; but when I include a subheading, the spacing between the heading and subheading is 0 points, while the spacing between the subheading and the body text remains at 6 points. I'll send you a sample document if you respond privately.

2013-09-23 10:14:46

Marilyn Hayner

I agree with Doug. My experience is the same as his; therefore I use 12 points after each paragraph. Six points before and six points after results in six points between paragraphs. I'm using Word 2010.

2013-09-23 09:10:03



That's not my experience with Word. Can you tell me what you are basing your comment on?


2013-09-23 09:00:36

Doug Vetter

I would like to clarify one comment you make in your introductory paragraph. The spacing between two paragraphs is determined by the larger of the "before" and "after" settings, not the sum of them. For example, two paragraphs, both with with "6 points before" and "6 points after," will have only six points between them. If the first paragraph has "12 points after" and the second has "6 points before," there will be 12 points between them.

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