Insert and Edit a Table with Multiple Columns and Rows in Word

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated August 23, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)

You can create a table in a Word document in 4 easy ways using the Ribbon. A table is a grid made up of columns and rows that intersect to form cells. You can insert text, numbers and images in a table. Once you have inserted a table, you can easily add and resize columns and rows and change table formatting.

It's best to avoid using Draw Table to create a table since the table may not be created in a consistent way.

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 newer versions of Word, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Table Design tab may appear as Table Tools Design.

In the following example, a table with 4 columns and 5 rows has been inserted in a Word document:

Example table in Word with 4 columns and 5 rows.

Recommended article: 10 Microsoft Word Shortcuts for Moving Around in Tables

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Create a table using the Table Grid

To insert a table using Insert Table and select columns and rows in the Table Grid:

  1. Click in the Word document where you want to insert a table.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Table in the Tables group. A drop-down menu appears with a Table Grid.
  4. Hover over the grid until the number of columns and rows you want is selected.
  5. Click in the highlighted area of the grid to insert a table.

To insert a table, select cells in the Table Grid as follows:

Create a table in Word using the table grid.

Create a table using the Insert Table dialog box

To insert a table using the Insert Table dialog box:

  1. Click in the Word document where you want to insert a table.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Table in the Tables group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Select Insert Table. A dialog box appears.
  5. Enter the number of columns and rows you want to create.
  6. Select the desired options below AutoFit behavior (typically Fixed column width: Auto).
  7. Click OK.

The Insert Table dialog box appears with options to select the number of columns and rows:

Create a table in Word using the Insert Table dialog box and enter number of columns and rows.

Create a table using Quick Tables

To insert a table using Quick Tables:

  1. Click in the Word document where you want to insert a table.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Table in the Tables group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Select Quick Tables. A gallery appears.
  5. Click the table you want to insert.

Quick Tables appear in the Table drop-down menu:

Create a table in Word using Quick Tables.

Create a table by converting text to a table

If you have used tabs or other delimiters in paragraphs, you can convert the data into a table (if the delimiters are entered consistently). Wherever you have pressed Enter or Return to create a new paragraph, Word will create a new table row. You can use various delimiters to separate data but the most common are tabs, spaces or commas.

To convert delimited data to a table:

  1. Select the text that you want to convert.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Table in the Tables group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Select Convert Text to Table. A dialog box appears.
  5. Enter the number of columns if necessary and ensure a delimiter is selected in the Separate text at area.
  6. Under AutoFit behavior, choose how you want your table to appear. Word chooses a width for the table columns by default. If you want a different column width, choose AutoFit to contents or AutoFit to window.
  7. Click OK.

In the Convert Text to Table dialog box, enter the number of columns as well as the delimiter:

Create a table in Word by using Convert Text to Table dialog box.

Show table gridlines

Gridlines show the cell boundaries of a table on screen if table borders are not applied. Gridlines appear only on the screen and are not printed.

Gridlines are not visible when you view a document in a Web browser or in Print Preview.

To show table gridlines in a Word document:

  1. Click in a table.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Table group, check View Gridlines.

View Gridlines appears on the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab in the Ribbon:

View gridlines command in the Table Layout tab in the Ribbon.

Move around in a table

You can use the following keys to move from one cell to another in a table:

  • Tab to move to the next cell to the right.
  • Shift-Tab to move to the cell to left.
  • Ctrl-Tab to tab within a cell.

Add a row or a column

To add a row in a table:

  1. Click in a cell that is located above or below where you want to add a row.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. To add a row above the cell you clicked in, click Insert Above in the Rows and Columns group. To add a row below the cell you clicked in, in the Rows and Columns group, click Insert Below.

The commands to insert rows or columns appear on the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab in the Ribbon:

Insert rows or columns commands in Ribbon in Word.

You can also right-click in a row and choose Insert from the drop-down menu and insert options from the sub-menu.

If you click in the last cell in a table and press Tab, Word will automatically add a row.

To add a column in a table:

  1. Click in a cell that is located to the right or left of where you want to add a column.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. To add a column to the left of the cell you clicked in, click Insert Left in the Rows and Columns group. To add a column to the right of the cell you clicked in, in the Rows and Columns group, click Insert Right.

You can also right-click in a row and choose Insert from the drop-down menu and insert options from the sub-menu.

Delete a column or row

To delete a row or column:

  1. Select the row or column (drag over the cells or click to the left of a row or above a column when the arrow appears).
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Rows & Columns group, click Delete. A drop-down menu applears.
  4. Click Delete Rows or Delete Columns as appropriate.

You can also right-click in a row or column and choose Delete from the drop-down menu and delete options from the sub-menu.

Change column width

To change column width:

  1. Select the column or columns you want to change.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Properties in the Table group. You can also right-click and choose Properties from the drop-down menu. A dialog box appears.
  4. Click the Column tab.
  5. Check Preferred Width.
  6. Type the new measurement for the column width. For example, typer 1.0" or click the up and down arrows.
  7. Click OK.

The Table Properties dialog box appears as follows with the Column tab selected:

Table Properties dialog box in Word with Column tab selected to change column width.

You can also drag the right line of a column to resize it.

Change row height

To change row height:

  1. Select the row or rows you want to change.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Properties in the Table group. You can also right-click and choose Properties from the drop-down menu. A dialog box appears.
  4. Click the Row tab.
  5. Check Specify Height.
  6. Type the new measurement for the row height. For example, type 1.0" or click the up and down arrows.
  7. Specify row height as At Least or Exactly.
  8. Click OK.

The Table Properties dialog box appears as follows with the Row tab selected:

Table Properties dialog box in Word with Row tab selected to change row height.

You can also drag the bottom line of a row to resize it.

Distribute rows and columns evenly

To distribute rows and columns evenly:

  1. Select the entire table by clicking the four-arrows that appear on the top left of the table.
  2. Click the Table Layout or Table Tools Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Distribute Rows and / or Distribute Columns in the Cell Size group.

Apply a table style

To apply a table style:

  1. Click in the table.
  2. Click the Table Design or Table Tools Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click a table style or click the More arrow to display the Table Styles gallery and click a style.

Table Styles gallery appears on the Table Tools Design or Table Design tab in the Ribbon:

Table Styles gallery in Word document to apply a table style.

To learn more about working with table styles, check out the article How to Format Microsoft Word Tables Using Table Styles (Ultimate Guide).

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More resources

4 Ways to Delete a Table in Word

How to Make Columns in Word (Newspaper-style)

How to Insert Formulas and Functions in Word Tables

10 Microsoft Word Shortcuts for Moving Around in Tables

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4 Ways to Create a Table in Word
Article Name
4 Ways to Create a Table in Word
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You can create a table in a Word document in 4 easy ways using the Ribbon. A table is a grid made up of columns and rows that intersect to form cells. You can insert text, numbers and images in a table. Once you have inserted a table, you can easily add and resize columns and rows and change table formatting.
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Avantix Learning

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