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Have Word automatically align tables to changes in page layout

When you change margins or page orientation, by default, a Word table will not change its width to match. If you make one change, it may throw off the entire chart's position. Mary Ann Richardson shows how you can have Word automatically reposition it for you.

When you change margins or page orientation, by default, a table will not change its width to match. For example, you create a table whose width extends from the one-inch page margin on the left to the one-inch page margin on the right. If you change the margins to 1/2 inch, the table moves to the left. You may try to reposition it by clicking and dragging the table borders so they extend back to the right margin; you also may need to reformat each of the columns and their contents. Instead, have Word automatically reposition it for you.

Before making any changes to the page margins or orientation, follow these steps:

  1. Select the table and right-click it.
  2. Scroll to Autofit and then select AutoFit to Window.

Word will automatically adjust the table width to any margin or page orientation changes. With Autofit to Window enabled, you can use tables to keep header or footer text properly aligned. Thus, instead of using tab formatting, use a table set to Autofit to Window to automatically center or right-align the contents of a header or footer. For example, you could create a one-row, three-column table in a header. In the second column, you would type the chapter title and then center it in the cell. In the first cell in the third column, you would enter a right-aligned page number field. Unlike tab formatting, the header content in the table would automatically adjust to changes in the page margin or orientation.

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15 comments
dutch_gemini
dutch_gemini

You can also set the width of a table to cover 100% of the printable area.

mark
mark

It's nice, sexy and almost irresistable, however.. I never use tables in headers or footers anymore as most of those documents became corrupt. This seems to be a universal problem, noted on reputable websites and reported by many professional wordsmiths. I love the idea, I really do. I just wish it was safe. Mark Helpdesk

peterbal
peterbal

D'you know I have used Word 97 and then Word 2000 for over ten years and I never knew that. I feel like a dummy - snort! Thanks for the tip. Peter

cabanks
cabanks

In my version of Word 2002 SP3, when I selected the whole table then right clicked, "Autofit" did not appear in the menu; however, if I did not select whole table and just right clicked anywhere within the table, "Autofit" did appear in the menu. Just my observation.

myrtle1893
myrtle1893

Always enjoy reading and usually save Mary Ann's articles. Thanks!

holmescd
holmescd

..does this pertain to? It wold be very helpful to provide that information in either the heading of your articles or in the description. Thanks.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Word already treats headers and footers as three-column tables. Embed a table inside a table and...

ssharkins
ssharkins

Did it work as you expected or did it just apply Autofit to the selected column?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It's been there since at least Office 97.

mark
mark

So there's a rationale for the irrationality? Could you elaborate on how Word treats the headers n footers as tables? I'd be interested to know, maybe the root table could be auto widthed by code?

cabanks
cabanks

It worked perfectly. The whole table which covered 3 pages was formatted to fit the new margins.

brianwilson1
brianwilson1

It would still be very helpful to us hackers if the applicable versions that your sage advice pertains to, are noted.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Actually, now that I think about it, I was thinking of the headers and footers in spreadsheets, since I use them much more than I use documents.

ssharkins
ssharkins

That's good to know -- thanks for checking back in.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The article probably applies to Office 2007. The feature has been in every version I've used since Office 97. So, let's see, that would be Office 97, Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, and now (presumably) Office 2007. Edit: Oh, and all versions of OpenOffice as well. Right click on a table, select "Table" from the context menu, and check the "Relative" checkbox.

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