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Be more efficient with Word 2013's new table features

Save some time by learning and applying Word 2013's new table features.

Adding tables to a Word document is a frequent task for many users. I work with them almost daily. That's why Word 2013's new table features are a welcomed addition. It's easier than ever to insert rows and columns. In addition, new formatting options make short work of many formatting tasks.

Inserting rows and columns

In older versions, inserting a row or column into a table meant a few clicks. It certainly isn't a laborious task, but it’s easier in Word 2013. To insert a new row into a Word 2013 table, hover to the left of a row border (in the margin) and click the new insert icon - a small circle with a + character. Inserting a new column is just as easy - hover above column borders to display the icon.

You can insert multiple rows by selecting the number of rows you want to insert and clicking the insert icon. Clicking the icon beside the top row will insert rows above the selection. Clicking the icon beside the bottom row will insert rows below the section.

New formatting options

When it comes to formatting a table, styles are probably the quickest and easiest choice. The new gallery categorizes styles into lists and grid styles. To access these styles, click anywhere inside the table and click the contextual Design tab. Then, click the More button (the dropdown arrow) for the gallery in the Table Styles group. In the gallery, you’ll find styles for plain tables, grids, and lists. (You might have to thumb down to see the list section.)

Sometimes, direct formatting is the best way to go. You might want to work with a specific cell, column, or row. Or, you might have unique conventions to apply. For the most part, direct formatting hasn’t changed, but Word 2013 has enhanced border formats with three new tools: Borders Gallery, Borders Painter, and Border Sampler. You’ll find these new tools on the contextual Design tab in the Borders group.

First, let’s take a look at the Borders Gallery by clicking the Borders Styles dropdown. The resulting gallery hosts a number of predefined border styles, which work the same way as any other style. Click one to apply it to the selected cell, row, or column. Word will display a pen icon that you'll use to draw a new border. Just click, drag, and release. It works similarly to the Draw Table tool, but instead of adding cells, you’ll format borders. It’s a simple technique and you’ll catch on quickly!

Border Painter is similar to Format Painter, but it’s limited to borders. Once you select a border from the gallery, that border is it. To apply that border's formats to another border, click the Border Painter and then click the border. It relieves you of a few clicks getting into the gallery - the selected border becomes the Border Painter’s default.

The Border Sampler tool is a bit of a shortcut to changing the Border Painter’s default. Click the Border Styles dropdown to find the Border Sample below the gallery thumbnails. Click any of the previously used borders to change the Border Painter’s default. It’s most effective when you’ve applied several direct formats to a single border and you don’t want to repeat that process. It tracks only the borders in use, not all of Word’s available border styles.

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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