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Formatting form tables

From: Word 2010: Forms in Depth

Video: Formatting form tables

In our form, we're using tables to be able to structure our data to group like elements together and to be able to create containers that make it easy for users to use our forms. In this movie, we're going to see how we can use the design tools that come with tables to be able to add borders and shading and to change the layout of tables by merging and splitting cells, so that we can create a form that looks even more professional. Whenever you are in a table, you get two new tabs of tools that are added by Microsoft Word.

Formatting form tables

In our form, we're using tables to be able to structure our data to group like elements together and to be able to create containers that make it easy for users to use our forms. In this movie, we're going to see how we can use the design tools that come with tables to be able to add borders and shading and to change the layout of tables by merging and splitting cells, so that we can create a form that looks even more professional. Whenever you are in a table, you get two new tabs of tools that are added by Microsoft Word.

One is the Design tab that's used for things like borders and shading, the color of lines. It allows you to draw and erase table features. And then second, the Layout tab, which has a ton of tools for tables including things like Text Direction and Repeat Header Rows, but more importantly to us, the ability to insert and delete rows and columns, and the ability to split cells or to merge cells, or in the case of a form that was created using a really long table, to actually split the table into parts if we wanted to.

We're going to begin by selecting this very first table and go to the Design tab and turn off the borders on the table. Now we can still see the table lines because the gridlines are turned on. That's on the Layout tab. If they're turned off, it will look like this and you'll say oh, my gosh! Where did my table go? Simply click View Gridlines in the Layout tab to turn them back on. And what we're going to do now is we're going to split a couple of cells so that you see how that happens. For example, a location would probably be a rather long piece of text, a city name or something like that, whereas an extension and a date are shorter pieces.

If we use shorter lines, it helps clue users in about where they are in the form and the kind of information that you expect to have. So we're going to go to the Layout tab and simply split this single cell in two. By default, every time you open this dialog box, it's going to choose 2 columns, 1 row. Just click OK. Notice we now have two cells there and the same for extension. We're just going to go split those cells and we'll be all set. We also want to split the cells for Name because we want to have a title, a first name, and a last name here.

So with spacer columns in between, we need to split this single cell into five cells. And we can then adjust them for width, so there is enough room for a title and then a space, a first name and then a small space, and a last name. Now we're going to use the Borders tool that we find on the Design tab to go ahead and add lines below each of these. If you work top to bottom in your table, it's easier when you put the bottom borders in.

Sometimes if you start on the top, when you put a bottom border in the first row and then put a bottom border in the second row, it removes the border in the first row. So if you're working with Bottom Borders, just go ahead and work from the bottom to the top. If you were working with Top Borders, you'd work in the opposite direction. But notice you just click in the cell and apply the border and you're in good shape. Notice when I work top to bottom there, again it removed that. So we can go back and draw it back in again or we can work bottom to top to begin with and that always makes it easier.

Our second table we're going to actually use some table styles to format. When I look at this table and select it, there are whole group of styles that I can use to format this table. For example, I could use this kind of a style, and the reason I might format this is I have six parallel items right next to each other and if I provide some shading on every other item, it's easier for the user to read. It draws their eye across the screen. When I look at this group of table styles, most of them have headings on them, and that's because I actually have the Header Row turned on over here in the Table Style options.

If I turn it off, then all of these styles will revert to styles that don't include a header row. That actually looks pretty good and goes well along with the other text in my document, in my logo, or if I wanted something a little spunkier, I could choose the yellow. Having done that, I now have a lot of visual separation in this table. So I can return to the Home tab and with this table selected actually remove space before the paragraphs to tighten it up and save some more space in my form. So the alternation of colors provides space visually in a way that I then don't have to provide physical space in the form.

There are others areas of this form where I might want to make some changes and I'm going to leave you to do those on your own with one exception. Most folks understand that when you see something that says For office use only that then has a gray background, that they are not to fill it out. So that's a gift. We'll go ahead and mark that in gray and just leave it for them. And with that, we've now changed our form in such a way that it's visually easier to use, and it's going to make it more compelling for a user to want to pick up to begin with simply by using the Design and the Layout table tools in Word 2010.

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Word 2010: Forms in Depth

28 video lessons · 13063 viewers

Gini Courter
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