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Understanding tab tables

From: Word for Mac 2011 Essential Training

Video: Understanding tab tables

Tables like the ones you see here are useful for organizing and presenting related data in a format that's easy to read and pleasant to look at. Tables are widely used in all kinds of business documents. Word offers a variety of ways to create tables of information. This document shows three of them. Only one of them is correct. The first example shows a table created with spaces between each column of information. The trouble is characters and most fonts have variable widths. For example the letter I is skinnier than the letter W. When you create a table with spaces unless you use an ugly mono spaced font you can not going to get the columns to line up.

Understanding tab tables

Tables like the ones you see here are useful for organizing and presenting related data in a format that's easy to read and pleasant to look at. Tables are widely used in all kinds of business documents. Word offers a variety of ways to create tables of information. This document shows three of them. Only one of them is correct. The first example shows a table created with spaces between each column of information. The trouble is characters and most fonts have variable widths. For example the letter I is skinnier than the letter W. When you create a table with spaces unless you use an ugly mono spaced font you can not going to get the columns to line up.

Look closely at this first example and you will see what I mean. This is the wrong way to create a simple table in Word. Tabs, which you use in the second two examples, offer a better way. Tabs work with the tab stop sit inside of the ruler. When you type in items in a tabbed table, you press the Tab key on the keyboard to advance the insertion point to the next tab stop. When you type the text is lined up with that tab stop. Tabs are far better than spaces for creating tables of data because they ensure that the text aligns with the tab stop. Now there are two ways to use Word's tab feature and one way is far better than the other, as I will try to convince you now.

By default Word's ruler has built-in tab stopa set half an inch apart. You can actually see them on the ruler as tiny little marks in the bottom of the ruler. So I am going to click in one of these paragraphs here in the second table and if you look up in the ruler you will see these little tiny marks. These are the default tab stops. In the middle table here I've used the default tab stops and pressed tab as many times as I needed to, to get from one column to the next. So this first heading line for example has lots of tabs. You could see them all right here.

While the next one has fewer and the next one has more and about the same and it goes on and on like that. So the point is that each line is different. This is not a good way to use Word's tab feature. Now Word also enables you to create your own custom tab stops anywhere you like on the ruler. When you add a tab stop it automatically removes any default tab stops to the left of it. This third table here has custom tab stops. I have clicked in one of the paragraphs in the table and if you look up on the ruler, you will see those little tiny ones are gone. Instead we've got this tab and this tab and this tab.

These are custom tabs that I have set. With its setup like this I only have to press the Tab key once between each column to advance to the next column and you could see that right here. There is only one tab in between each of these columns. This is the best way to use Word's tab feature. Well at this point you're likely looking at these three tables and thinking that they all look pretty much the same. In fact if I turn off the nonprinting characters they really do look very much the same especially the last two. You're probably wondering what's the big deal? Well, the big deal is this.

If you decide to change the font settings for the table, maybe you want a larger or smaller font, one table is far more likely to survive the change without a lot of fixing. So let's give that a try. We will select all three tables. Right now they are set for 11 point text. Let's make that 12 points and see what happens. As you can see here the top table and the second table are really screwed up. But the last table works fine. It looks good. Let's make it a smaller font and see what happens.

The first table looks pretty much okay, but the second table is still screwed up and again the third table looks fine. The other benefit of using custom tab settings is that it's easier to change the width of the table columns. All you need to do is select the table paragraphs and drag the tab marker to a new position. So we will give that a try with this. I will select this and maybe I will just drag this tab marker here and as you could see it moves the whole column. You can't do this if you haven't set tab stops in the first place.

In the videos in this chapter I'll explain how to set up and use tabs properly to create simple tables in Word. I should also mention here that tabs are only one way to create tables in Word. You can also use cell tables, which I cover in another chapter.

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This video is part of

Image for Word for Mac 2011 Essential Training
Word for Mac 2011 Essential Training

95 video lessons · 20455 viewers

Maria Langer
Author

 
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  1. 5m 6s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Word processing basics
      3m 9s
    3. Using the exercise files
      49s
  2. 21m 53s
    1. Menus, shortcut keys, and toolbars
      3m 43s
    2. The Ribbon
      2m 32s
    3. The Toolbox and the Media Browser
      2m 27s
    4. The Sidebar
      1m 42s
    5. Document views
      5m 24s
    6. Navigating windows and documents
      6m 5s
  3. 13m 40s
    1. Using the Document Gallery
      4m 51s
    2. Creating documents
      1m 51s
    3. Opening, saving, and closing documents
      6m 58s
  4. 14m 20s
    1. Entering text
      5m 33s
    2. Inserting and deleting text
      2m 34s
    3. Using Click and Type to enter text
      3m 26s
    4. Inserting symbols and special characters
      2m 47s
  5. 27m 28s
    1. Selecting and editing text
      6m 34s
    2. Copying and moving text
      7m 1s
    3. Using the Scrapbook
      4m 38s
    4. Undoing, redoing, and repeating actions
      4m 36s
    5. Finding and replacing text
      4m 39s
  6. 24m 50s
    1. Font formatting basics
      9m 0s
    2. Applying font formatting
      7m 12s
    3. Using the Font dialog
      4m 35s
    4. Formatting with the Find and Replace dialog
      4m 3s
  7. 27m 18s
    1. Paragraph formatting basics
      9m 39s
    2. Setting justification and line spacing
      2m 17s
    3. Indenting paragraphs
      4m 37s
    4. Using list formats
      5m 41s
    5. Setting paragraph formatting options
      5m 4s
  8. 14m 33s
    1. Understanding tab tables
      4m 15s
    2. Creating a tab table with the Ruler
      5m 20s
    3. Creating a tab table with the Tabs dialog
      4m 58s
  9. 20m 31s
    1. Understanding styles and themes
      2m 36s
    2. Applying styles
      6m 32s
    3. Reformatting with Quick Style sets and themes
      2m 37s
    4. Modifying styles
      4m 28s
    5. Creating and deleting styles
      4m 18s
  10. 13m 22s
    1. Revealing formatting
      4m 24s
    2. Using the Format Painter
      1m 38s
    3. Creating drop caps
      3m 34s
    4. Using AutoFormat on text
      3m 46s
  11. 27m 29s
    1. Setting margins
      4m 3s
    2. Adding page and section breaks
      4m 54s
    3. Setting multiple columns
      8m 11s
    4. Varying page orientation within a document
      2m 43s
    5. Inserting page numbers
      2m 47s
    6. Adding watermarks and background images
      4m 51s
  12. 13m 39s
    1. Using built-in headers and footers
      5m 34s
    2. Manually creating headers and footers
      4m 0s
    3. Setting multiple headers and footers in a document
      4m 5s
  13. 18m 54s
    1. Creating a cell table
      3m 42s
    2. Entering and formatting table text
      4m 16s
    3. Modifying table structure
      5m 34s
    4. Using table styles
      2m 49s
    5. Converting between tab and cell tables
      2m 33s
  14. 18m 12s
    1. Adding borders to text and paragraphs
      5m 38s
    2. Adding borders to table cells
      3m 47s
    3. Setting page borders
      4m 13s
    4. Applying shading
      4m 34s
  15. 16m 56s
    1. Using the Media Browser to insert media
      3m 24s
    2. Inserting media from a file
      2m 36s
    3. Formatting images
      4m 30s
    4. Wrapping text around an image
      2m 27s
    5. Inserting and formatting a text box
      3m 59s
  16. 13m 17s
    1. Using AutoCorrect and AutoFormat As You Type
      9m 26s
    2. Using AutoText and AutoComplete
      3m 51s
  17. 17m 28s
    1. Building an outline
      4m 26s
    2. Rearranging outline components
      3m 39s
    3. Viewing outlines
      4m 9s
    4. Numbering outline headings
      5m 14s
  18. 26m 49s
    1. Checking spelling and grammar
      8m 19s
    2. Using reference tools
      4m 30s
    3. Inserting footnotes and endnotes
      6m 27s
    4. Using the Word Count feature
      2m 49s
    5. Compiling a table of contents
      4m 44s
  19. 17m 44s
    1. Adding comments
      2m 46s
    2. Tracking changes
      7m 45s
    3. Merging and comparing documents
      4m 28s
    4. Sharing documents with others
      2m 45s
  20. 18m 54s
    1. Using letter templates
      8m 5s
    2. Creating envelopes
      6m 23s
    3. Creating labels
      4m 26s
  21. 12m 36s
    1. Setting Document Security options
      9m 0s
    2. Using Privacy options
      3m 36s
  22. 14m 31s
    1. Setting Page Setup Options
      4m 12s
    2. Previewing a document
      2m 13s
    3. Printing to a printer
      4m 11s
    4. Printing to PDF
      3m 55s
  23. 11m 9s
    1. Using Word's Macro Recorder
      9m 18s
    2. Understanding macro security
      1m 51s
  24. 12m 28s
    1. Customizing toolbars and menus
      6m 0s
    2. Customizing Word's shortcut keys
      3m 38s
    3. Customizing the Ribbon
      2m 50s
  25. 42s
    1. Goodbye
      42s

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