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If you have a document like this one, information that was entered using tabs, you can quickly convert this tabular text to a table. Tabular data is relatively hard to work with and to be clear, when this data was entered this was probably entered by somebody who was doing a really good job. They set tabs, for example, for State and for Manager, for Employees and for the Year Established column, and yet if I want to, for example, trade the City and State columns and I try to select State, I can't. There is no real sense of a column here.
What there is is data that was entered by pressing Tab. The same thing is true if I want to select this text. I can select this as block, but I can't easily work with this data in its current format. By converting it to a table, I can easily work with this data, trade columns, trade rows, and so forth. So let's convert this text to a table. I'm going to begin by selecting all of the tabular data. I'm not going to include Retail Store Locations, just my tabular data, and then even though I'm not inserting anything, my Table commands are on the Insert tab.
So we're going to click Insert > Table > Convert Text to Table. A Dialog box opens that asks me to verify what my data looks like. I'm not concerned with the number of rows, but I want to make sure that the number of columns is correct. I have five columns of data. If this number is different, for example, 6, it might mean that there's an extra tab here on the ruler. If it's dramatically different, like 10 columns of data, that sometimes happens when the person who created this document to begin with didn't know how to set tabs.
So after they typed City, they pressed Tab, Tab, Tab to get here and Tab, Tab to get from State to Manager, and then you'll have an outrageous number of columns because there were many times that tabs were used here. If that's the case, you can still try Converting Text to Table, but you might be better off fixing the tabs first before you attempt to do this, or simply type in the text over again. In terms of the table that we'll be creating, the widths of the columns will be set automatically based on the current contents of the data in that column.
Then finally, it says Separate Text by Tabs, which is exactly how this data was entered: City tab, State tab, Manager tab and so on. Don't blink, because this happens really quickly now, and in one click I've converted my tabular data to a table in Microsoft Word 2010. In my table then I can adjust my column widths and more importantly, I can select data by the column. Notice as I hover above the top of a column, I have a downward-pointing arrow that I can click to select a whole column of data.
In the same way, I'll have an arrow to the left of a row that allows me to select the whole row, or a small arrow that allows me to select just a cell. But I want to select an entire column of data and my goal was to swap the State and the City, so I'm simply going to select the State column, drag it over here, and that quickly trade those two columns of data. Again, if I'd like to have this data about the Year that the store was established at the start of my list, I can simply select it, drag and drop.
If you have hard-to-format tabular data, convert it to a table, and make it much, much easier to edit and to format.
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