Office XP Tips: Quick, Easy, Pretty Tables in WordLearn to auto-format and create more useful tables for your data.
Jim Welp, PCWorld.com
I'll be the first to admit that I'm no Martha Stewart. I'm not even sure which side of the knife the spoon is supposed to go on. But I do know a drab Word table when I see it. Word's default table is a stack of boxes with text inside. Functional, yes. Festive, no. Fortunately, Word 2002 comes to the rescue with the Table AutoFormat command. With Table AutoFormat, you can choose from a long list of stylish formats, each one guaranteed to bring new life to drab tables. Besides just sprucing up your tables' appearance, the built-in styles also make them easier to read.
Set the Table
To take a look at the styles that Table AutoFormat offers, open a document with an existing table or create a new table. To create a new table, click the Insert Table icon on the Standard Toolbar; on the grid that drops down from the icon, move your mouse pointer down and across to get the rows and columns you want (4 by 5 is the maximum and a good size if you just want to goof around with this command; watch the label under the grid), and click to choose a size for your table.
Now, click inside your table and choose Table, Table AutoFormat. Word presents the Table AutoFormat dialog box, which provides a long list of options in the "Table styles" list box. You can see the various styles in the Preview pane by clicking a style name. As you'll see, there's everything under the sun, from prim and proper to downright funky. Once you find a table style you like, just click its name, then click Apply. Word formats your table and closes the dialog box. There, now isn't that a splendid table?
You Call the Shots
Often, you'll want to highlight certain elements of your table to draw attention to them or to make the table easier to understand. For instance, your first row or column might include headers that describe the contents of the other rows or columns. Or your last row or column might contain summary information. In many of its table styles, Word tries to anticipate your needs by including special formatting such as color, shading, or upper-case text for the first and last columns and rows.
That's fine for when you need it, but what if you don't? Your table would look silly with special formatting that's not needed. But that doesn't mean you have to forgo a table style. If the style you chose has special formatting where you don't need it, simply click to uncheck the appropriate option in the "Apply special formats to" section at the bottom of the Table AutoFormat dialog box. You can turn off formatting for heading rows, the first column, the last row, or the last column. As you click through these options, Word displays the effect in the Preview pane.
You're Stylin' Now
With a plethora of table formatting options at your disposal, what more could you do in your quest for truly natty tables? Plenty. If you really want to get in touch with your inner Martha, you can create your own table styles or modify existing ones.
To create your own table style, open the Table AutoFormat dialog box and click the New button. When Word presents the New Style dialog box, give your style a name in the Name text box. Next, choose a style on which to base your new style in the "Style based on" drop-down list. If you want to start from scratch, accept the default "Table Normal" option.
At this point, it's time to go wild with your own table style. Go to the Formatting section, make selections, and view your progress in the Preview pane. In the "Apply formatting to" drop-down list, you can specify whether the formatting changes you make will apply to your whole table or just to elements of it such as specific columns or rows. Next you can select from the following options (from left to right): typeface; point size; bold, italic, or underline; and text color. Below that, you can choose the following options (from left to right): border style; border line width; border color; where to place borders; background shading and color; and text alignment. Once you're happy with your table style, click OK to save it and return to the Table AutoFormat dialog box, where you'll find your new style listed.
The procedure for modifying an existing style is almost identical to creating a new one. To modify an existing style, open the Table AutoFormat dialog box, click the name of the style you want to modify, and click the Modify button. Word opens the Modify Style dialog box, where you can make formatting selections as described above. Once you're happy with your table style, click OK to lock in the changes.
A Long-Term Relationship
If you find a table style you really love, you can tell Word to use that style for all tables you create in that document or--if you're really into long-term commitment--for all tables you create in Word. To set a default table style, open the Table AutoFormat dialog box, click the style's name, and click the Default button. Word will ask you whether you want to set the style for the current document only or for all documents based on the Normal.dot template (meaning all documents you create using the File, New command). Name your poison and click OK to set the default.
Finally, the Table AutoFormat dialog box offers one more button: Delete. If you want to banish a table style from your life, click its name in the list and click Delete. And say what you want about Martha Stewart, but she sure can whip up a marvelous rustic floating centerpiece!
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