Software

Let AutoCorrect create a quick Word table

Do you know how to enter a Word table using AutoCorrect? Just enter the right characters and Word generates a table.
There are a number of ways to create a table in Word. My favorite method is to select the data, and then click Insert Table on the Standard toolbar. (You can also choose Insert from the Table menu, and then choose Table.) Word uses the selected data to generate a table of the appropriate number columns and rows. You can then easily tweak settings. Occasionally, if I have a general idea of the table's dimensions, but I have no data, I use this method to generate a placeholding table. My least favorite method is the Draw Table command on the Table menu—there's just too much drama with it! (The icon equivalent is Tables and Borders on the Standard toolbar.) Most likely, you also use one of these methods to insert a table. There's another method that few people use because they don't know about it: Word's AutoCorrect feature can generate a one-row table. The rules are simple:
  • Use the pipe character ( | ) to identify the cells in the table.
  • Enter one hyphen character (between two pipe characters) for each character space in a cell.
For example, to create a one-row table with five cells of ten spaces each, you'd enter the following line and then press Enter: |—————|—————|—————|—————|—————| The above line and AutoCorrect generate the following table:

         

Just remember to begin and end the line with the pipe character. The truth is, this method seems like a lot of work—because it is. Using Insert Table is much easier. However, the AutoCorrect method could come in handy if you're working in a template with no Table menu. Of course, if that's the case, there's no guarantee this AutoCorrect feature will be enabled either. If the series of pipe and hyphen characters doesn't work for you, there are two things to check:
  • You must press [Enter] at the end of the line to execute the AutoCorrect response.
  • From the Tools menu, choose AutoCorrect Options and click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. In the Apply As You Type section, make sure the Tables option is checked.
I recommend that you stick with the built-in menu methods for creating tables. They're quick, easy, and dependable. However, in a pinch, the AutoCorrect method is a reliable alternative.

About

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.

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