Apply and Modify Table Styles in Word Documents

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated April 21, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)

You can apply table styles to your Word tables to format them quickly and consistently. Word is shipped with several built-in table styles or you can create your own. You can edit table styles by modifying borders, shading, character formatting, paragraph formatting and table properties. If your document includes multiple tables, table styles can save a lot of time.

Recommended article: How to Keep a Microsoft Word Table or Row Together on One Page

Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For Word 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Table Tools Design tab may appear as Table Design.

Table styles and themes

Every Word document uses a document theme which includes a font theme and color theme. The colors used in table styles are based on the color theme.

You can select document themes, color themes and font themes using the Themes, Colors or Fonts drop-down menus on the Design tab in the Ribbon:

Microsoft Word Design tab in the Ribbon for selecting themes.

You can also create your own custom color themes so your tables can be formatted using your organization’s colors.

Turning gridlines on

When you are working with tables, it’s a good idea to turn gridlines on. Borders, which are a format, will print. Gridlines do not print.

To turn on gridlines:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab.
  3. Click View Gridlines.

View Gridlines appears on the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab when you click in a table:

View gridlines for tables in Microsoft Word.

Applying a table style

If your Word document contains multiple tables that you want to format in a consistent way, it’s best to use table styles rather than applying manual or direct formatting to each table.

To apply a table style to a table:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Hover over the various table styles. The table formatting will change as you move over different table styles in the gallery.
  5. Click the table style you want to apply.

Below is the Table Styles gallery (the current theme is the Office theme):

Microsoft Word Table Styles gallery.

Note: Table styles do not include row height, column width or custom cell formatting for individual cells. If a user applies manual or direct formatting to a table (such as fills and borders) on the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab, this formatting will override the table style.

Selecting Table Style Options

Once you have selected a table style, you can select different Table Style Options (which are affected by the formats in the table style).

To select Table Style Options:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Header Row. If this option is checked, the header row will be formatted differently from the body rows.
  4. In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Total Row. If this option is checked, the last row will be formatted differently from the body rows.
  5. In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Banded Rows or Banded Columns for alternate row or column shading.
  6. In Table Style Options, check First Column or Last Column if you want the first or last column formatted differently from the other columns.

Table Style Options appear on the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab when you click in a table:

Microsoft Word table style options.

In the following table, Header Row and Banded Rows are checked in Table Style Options:

Table in Microsoft Word document with table style applied.

Modifying a table style

You can modify a table style in a Word document and all tables using that table style will change.

To modify a table style:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click Modify Table Style. A dialog box appears. You can also right-click a table style and select Modify.
  5. From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the element that you want to modify (such as Header row).
  6. Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.
  7. From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the next element that you want to modify.
  8. Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.
  9. Repeat for other elements.
  10. Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template. If you select Only in this document, the modified style will only be available for the current document. If you select New documents based on this template, then the table style will be modified for future documents based on the current template (usually the Normal template).
  11. Click OK.

Below is the Modify Style dialog box:

Table style dialog box in Microsoft Word.

You can also click Format at the bottom of the dialog box and choose other options such as Font or Paragraph.

If you modify a table style and the tables using that style do not change, it’s likely that direct or manual formatting has been applied to the table which then overrides the table style. You may need to clear formatting in the table by selecting the table and clicking Clear Formatting on the Home tab in the Font group.

You can also modify Table Properties in a table style. Table properties include table alignment, row settings and cell margins.

To modify Table Properties in a table style:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click Modify Table Style. A dialog box appears. You can also right-click a table style and select Modify.
  5. Click Format on the bottom left of the dialog box. A drop-down menu appears.
  6. Click Table Properties. A dialog box appears.
  7. Click the Table tab and select an Alignment.
  8. Click the Row tab and select the desired options. For example, turn off Allow row to break across pages.
  9. Select any other formatting options you want to apply to the entire table.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.
  12. Click OK.

Below is the Table Properties dialog box with the Table tab selected:

Microsoft Word Table Properties dialog box.

Creating a new table style

You can also create a new or custom table style.

To create a custom table style:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click a table style to apply it as a base style.
  5. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  6. Click New Table Style. A dialog box appears.
  7. Enter a name for the new table in the Name box.
  8. Select the desired formatting.
  9. Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.
  10. Click OK.

New Table Style appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:

Microsoft Word Table Styles gallery.

The new table style will appear in the Table Styles gallery under Custom (at the top of the gallery). If you want to delete it, right-click it in the gallery and select Delete Table Style.

Clearing a table style

To clear a table style and remove formatting:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click Clear.

Clear appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:

Microsoft Word Table Styles gallery.

Setting a default table style

You can also set a default table style for new tables in the current document or all new documents.

To set a default table style:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the More down arrow on the bottom right in the Table Styles gallery. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Right-click the table style you want to use as the default style and select Set as Default from the drop-down menu. A dialog box appears.
  5. Select This document only or All documents based on the Normal.dotm template (the default template in Word is the Normal template).
  6. Click OK.

If you are working with documents with multiple tables, formatting with table styles can ensure that your tables are formatted consistently and save a lot of time.

RELATED: 10 Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts for Selecting in Tables

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Summary
How to Format Microsoft Word Tables Using Table Styles
Article Name
How to Format Microsoft Word Tables Using Table Styles
Description
You can apply table styles to your Word tables to format them quickly and consistently. Use Word's built-in table styles or create your own. You can modify table styles by modifying borders, shading and other format. If your document includes multiple tables, table styles can save a lot of time.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning Inc.

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