Resizing Very Large Tables

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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Sometimes when Len copies and pastes a table from one document to another the table exceeds the width of the page, sometimes by a very large amount. He wonders if there is a good, easy way to resize the large table so that it fits within the margins of the document into which he pasted it.

There are a couple of approaches you can use to get your table back in control. The first (and perhaps easiest) is to simply click anywhere within any visible portion of the table. Word should display two new ribbon tabs: Design and Layout. Click on the Layout tab, click the AutoFit tool, and then choose AutoFit Window. Word makes sure that the table fits within the margins of the page.

Another way to accomplish the same task is to click the small square that appears at the upper-left corner of the table. (This small square has a four-headed arrow within it, and clicking it once selects the entire table.) Right-click within the table to display a Context menu. Choose AutoFit and then AutoFit Window.

Finally, another option is to right-click within the table to display a Context menu. Choose Table Properties and Word displays the Table Properties dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

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

On the Table tab of the dialog box, set the Preferred width to 100%. When you click OK, the table is snapped back into the page margins.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12585) 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 six more than 5?

2023-07-28 09:28:20

JLB

Thanks a lot for this tip!! It really save the day for a document I wrote!!


2023-01-30 08:27:44

Jesper

"Click on the Layout tab, click the AutoFit tool, and then choose AutoFit Window."

Hmm.. No such thing as an AutoFit tool in my Word (Office365)


2020-07-24 10:05:48

Diego R

Thank goodness didn't know this existed.


2019-05-29 13:23:42

David Cohen

a first step to deal with a large table is to consider font size, possibly dropping it. also, serif font conserves space compare to sans-serif.

if the text becomes too small for easy readability, adding points after a paragraph is a good way to provide visual access without adding to width, which is generally the problem (not length, as tables can extend through page breaks). and further re width, consider going to landscape orientation if the table is initially set up as portrait.

another approach is to have no column width preference, thus each column can be individually narrowed to an appropriate size.


2019-05-25 18:17:37

MW

Ken: Nice addition and clarification


2019-05-25 06:14:33

Ken Endacott

When a table is created using the Insert table command the result is a table slightly wider than the distance between page margins. The table is aligned so that the text in the top left cell aligns with the left margin of the page and therefore the table border projects into the left page margin by the amount of the cell’s left margin. You can exaggerate this effect by increasing the cell left margin of the table’s top left cell. On the other hand the right border of the table is aligned to the right page margin.

The same applies when AutoFit is used.

This is fine if in a borderless table you want the text in the first column to align with the page left margin. However if the table has borders then it can look out of place with the table extending into the page border.


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