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When you create a brand-new table or convert text to a table, Word creates a plain table with no formatting. You should format your tables to make them more eye-catching, or you can format your table so it doesn't look like a table at all, but it looks simply like parallel columns of text. So we're going to see how to do both of those things. First, when I've selected any text in my table or simply move the insertion point into my table, I have two new tabs on the Ribbon, Table tools used for Layout and used for Design.
The Design tab has an entire gallery of Table Styles. If I simply point to a Table Style, these are more subtle. But as I open my gallery, I'll find that there are some where the header is highlighted and some, for example, where the left column, the first column is highlighted. If I were going to use this table to refer to City locations for Stores, it would be great to have those City locations highlighted. All of these settings are also affected by the Table Style Options that I've set.
So if I turn off First Column, now I don't have choices that include a highlighted First Column, or I might decide that the Last Column and the First Column should both be highlighted in a different way. Notice this makes them stand out, but then we loose some of the readability that's provided by our banded rows that make it easy for the eye to follow horizontally across the table. When I click out of my table, my tools go away. I click back in my table and here they are again.
And towards the bottom of the gallery, there are some pretty impressive formats created with the darker accent colors. These do not do well printed on a black-and-white printer. I'm not even clear that they do exceptionally well printed on a color printer with a very wide format like this. However, this is a great design for pasting into a PowerPoint presentation. It's sparkly and attractive. And it catches the reader's eye. But if I need a reader to really read this table, I should provide them with a format that makes the table easier to read.
For example, this style is very similar to the green bar paper that was used in a lot of different computer settings for years and years, because it's easy to read. What if I don't want this text to look like a table at all, though? What if I want to maintain the structure of the table but have the reader experience of it be simply a block of tabular text? Well, what I can do is I can remove the formatting. To select the entire table at anytime, I'm going to move out to this Table Selection tool and click.
And I'm going to turn off all the Shading in my table. And I'm going to turn off all the Borders on my table. And now I have a table that basically looks like tabular text. I'm going to turn on the Gridlines, so I can still see how I can manipulate the table. So I'll do that by clicking the Layout tab and clicking the View Gridlines button. Even though this doesn't really look like a table anymore on the page, I can still select a column, and center the text in the column.
I can still move a column from one location to another, if I wish. It's interesting my formatting came back. That's not exactly what I would've wanted. So let's just tell Word, no, we really don't want any formatting here. No Color, no Borders. And after I make adjustments like this, I'll often have to change my column settings. That's not a problem. There's nothing wrong with a plain table, but there's nothing inherently right about it either.
If you have other graphic elements in your document, for example, charts or even text that's colored based on the theme, formatting your table is one more touch that makes your document look well-designed. And if you don't want your readers to experience your table as a table, you can simply remove all borders and shading, and what they'll see is well- formatted tabular text.
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