Change Word's default table properties to suit the way you work

By default, Word inserts a table with borders. If that's not your preference, change these default settings.

Word's a wiz at inserting and formatting tables, but by default, tables have borders. If you have to delete borders a lot, consider changing the default border property for tables. First, I'll show you a quick way to delete borders for a single table. Then, I'll show you how to change the default properties, so Word will insert a borderless table, by default.

Deleting borders once

When you insert a table using the Table option on the Insert tab (or the Table menu in Word 2003), the resulting table has borders.

If you're using Word 2010, you can quickly remove those borders as follows:

2010 and 2007: Select the table (click the Move Table handle in the top-left corner). Then, Click the contextual Design tab. In the Table Styles group, click the Borders dropdown. Choose No Borders. 2003: Select the table and choose No Border from the Borders dropdown on the Formatting toolbar.

In Print Layout (Normal) view, Word displays a light blue broken line to indicate the cell dimensions, but you won't see those lines in Print Preview, and Word won't print them.

Changing the border default

Occasionally removing the borders from a table is a simple task. If you do so frequently, consider changing the default settings as follows in 2010 and 2007:

  1. Position the cursor inside the table and click the contextual Design tab.
  2. In the Table Styles group, find an autoformat that best represents the default format you want. In this case, we'll use the first autoformat, named Table Grid.
  3. Right-click the autoformat and choose Modify Table Style
  4. In the resulting dialog, choose No Border from the Borders dropdown.
  5. Click OK.

After removing the borders from the Table Grid autoformat, you're ready to set it as the new default, as follows:

  1. Right-click Table Grid in the Table Styles group.
  2. Choose Set As Default.
  3. In the resulting dialog, select the All Documents Based On The Normal.dotm Template. If you retain the default, This Document Only, Word will use the format as the default in the current document only.
  4. Click OK.

In Word 2003, you can change the default and set it as a default via the same dialog, as follows:

  1. Choose Table AutoFormat from the Table menu.
  2. In the resulting dialog, choose Table Grid (you can choose any format you like, I'm choosing the simplest).
  3. Click Modify.
  4. In the resulting dialog, choose No Border from the Borders dropdown.
  5. Check the Add To Template option in the bottom-left corner. Don't check this option unless you want to change the default for all new documents.
  6. Click OK.

After changing the default in the Normal template, Word will insert tables with no borders. Choose the default options that you use the most and alter them as needed after the fact rather than settling for Microsoft's default and always changing them.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


my problem is the reverse.  I always had tables with borders in word 2003.  When I upgraded to word 2007, I lost the default for borders around tables.  I'm able to create the border no problem, but I cant find where to set that as my default for all future tables.  Following the instructions above, when I go into the table and explore thru the right click choices (including properties), I have not been able to find a "contextual design" button.  Am I missing something here?


My problem is not with borders particularly. I had a default table style in in Word 2003, which came across to normal.dotm in Word 2010 mainly ok, but sometimes on reopening a 2010 document, text columns decide that they want to right justify (like numbers) when I want them to be left justified. Even if I correct this manually, it can reoccur after some time. Also L&R borders in the heading row sometime remove themselves mysteriously in a table of text cells (again reflecting the 2003 default and not the formatting I have imposed). Now that I have set the table default as suggested in the article, I am hoping these problems will not recur. Otherwise, I may have to design a second style to use for tables with mainly text columns.

Cal Wilson
Cal Wilson

I found (in something I read) a keyboard shortcut you can use to remove borders. Place the insertion point in the table and press Ctrl+Alt+U.


I don't have an explanation for what you're experiencing and I doubt there's a reasonable fix. If this were my template, I'd just recreate the table style and delete the old one.


Thanks Cal, your keyboard shortcut was the best bit of this article - super helpful and I thank you!


Thank you for sharing that shortcut!

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