The right way to control spacing in a Word table

To format a heading row properly and consistently, use table properties, not empty paragraphs.

Something I see too frequently is the misuse of hard returns (paragraph marks) in a table's heading row. In an effort to make the row larger, users add a row of blank space above and below, as shown below the text.

The extra returns can cause a lot of frustration down the road. If you delete or add to a header, you can end up with a mess and users might spend a lot of time trying to fix it. All you've really done is to add a bunch of unnecessary empty paragraphs, and that's never a good thing. A better solution is to control the spacing and alignment using table properties. First, to control the height of the header row, do the following:

  1. Select the header row.
  2. Right-click the selection and choose Table Properties from the resulting context menu.
  3. Click the Row tab.
  4. Check the Specify Height option (in the Size section) and enter the appropriate measurement, say .5.
  5. Next, click the Cell tab.
  6. In the Vertical alignment section, click Center.
  7. Click OK.

The resulting table is the same, visually, but without all the unnecessary paragraph marks! Now, you can modify, add, and even delete headings without messing up the format of the heading row. Table properties aren't just for header rows either—use table properties to control the spacing and alignment in all cells (rows and columns too!)

About Susan Harkins

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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