Cannot Combine Two Tables

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 3, 2020)


Mark notes that the normal way to combine two tables is to remove all the empty paragraphs between those tables. Sometimes, though, this doesn't work. Visually they almost look like they are combined, but table properties and control are definitely separate. (For instance, Mark can see the table handle at the top corner of the second table.) He wonders if there is a way to force recalcitrant tables to actually combine.

Actually, there are multiple ways you can combine two tables. The method that Mark notes—deleting the paragraphs between the two tables—is perhaps the most often used, but there are times it won't work. (This will take a little explaining.)

One of the properties that a table can have is the text wrapping property. In other words, you can control how text wraps around the table. This can be an important property if a table isn't very wide horizontally. When you insert a table, the default is that text wrapping is set to "None," which means that text won't wrap around the table. You can change the text wrapping property by displaying the Table Properties dialog box and changing it on the Table tab of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Table tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

It isn't unusual for people to ignore the text wrapping property because, again, it typically comes in handy only if your table is narrow horizontally. Even if you don't explicitly change the property, it may get changed automatically. This happens if you drag the table vertically—if you click on the table handle and drag the table up or down. (Interestingly, it doesn't change if you drag the table left or right.)

Why does this matter? Because the "delete the paragraphs between two tables and they will join" technique only works if the text wrapping property is the same between the two tables—they must both be "None" or "Around." If you get rid of the intervening paragraphs and they don't join, it is a dead giveaway that the text wrapping properties of the two tables differ. Change them to be the same (again, using the Table Properties dialog box), and they will immediately join together as expected.

Besides deleting everything between the two tables, you can also join them by (a) selecting the bottom table and pressing Shift+Alt+Up Arrow until the two tables join or (b) selecting the top table and pressing Shift+Alt+Down Arrow until they join. Some people will also indicate that you can drag the bottom table's handle upwards until the table is just below the top table.

Again, however, none of these other joining methods will work unless the two tables share the same text wrapping property. Plus, the "drag the handle" method generally won't work because, as explained earlier, once you drag a table vertically, its text wrap property automatically changes to "Around" and, if the top table's text wrap property is "None," you have the situation where they cannot automatically join.

If you have a situation where two tables absolutely refuse to join together for some reason, you can always adopt the brute force method—convert them both to text, make any adjustments necessary, and convert the text back to a single 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 (12467) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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 seven less than 7?

2021-06-22 09:29:32


Thanks for this! I was having no luck combining two tables until I read this about the text wrapping. I had to change both tables to no wrapping to make it work. Appreciate the info. : )

2020-10-05 04:36:57


I have found a different technique to work. Add a row at the bottom of the upper table. Select rows from the lower table and paste them above the new row, then delete the new row. A change from the default paste format may be necessary.

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