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: Formatting Lots of Tables.

Formatting Lots of Tables

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 6, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word includes a very powerful table editor that allows you to make short work of presenting tables in your documents. Once you add a table, you can use one of Word's built-in table styles that are available on the Table Design tab of the ribbon.

Even though the built-in styles are great, they don't provide optimal formatting for all users. It is not unusual to need entirely different table formatting than what is provided in the table styles. If you have many tables to format, and the formatting of your tables is complex, you may be longing for the ability to add your own table formats to Word.

There are ways you can lighten your table-formatting burdens, however. All you need to do is use the following features of Word.

  • Styles. You can define styles for the way information should appear within your tables. Once you actually insert the information into the table, you can then apply a style to the data, thereby automatically setting font, indent, spacing, and alignment information. Word even allows you to create your own custom table styles that define the general appearance of your tables.
  • Macros. As you format a table to appear the way you want it, simply record a macro that you can later replay. Provided you are acting upon entire tables, columns, or rows, you can easily use the macro to speed subsequent formatting tasks. The macro can even be assigned to the Quick Access Toolbar or a shortcut key to make formatting your tables even easier.
  • Building Blocks. If you set up your tables before inserting information into them, you can create a blank table and then save it within a building block entry. Insert the entry at a later time, and your blank table is immediately available for inserting information.

How you mix and match these features to achieve your goals is up to you. (How you use each of these features has been the focus of considerable time in other WordTips.) With a bit of careful preparation and planning, you can easily automate and cut your table formatting tasks down to size.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12325) 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: Formatting Lots of 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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