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Up until now the tables we've been working with have been regular tables with the same number of cells in each column , or the same number of cells in each row. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are a number of reasons that you might want to create irregular tables. One of the biggest reasons is to be able to create something that you can use as a form. There is a very compelling reason to use tables, and I'll show you real quickly that often I'll get a form where somebody has actually created a line by typing an underline.
When I use this form in Word and begin to type my information, you'll notice that the line moves over and that anything to the right of this, for example, a Date would also move over, and the more I type, the more it makes my form look kind of icky. So, by using Tables, I can use Borders rather than Underlines, and I can create more professional-looking forms whether I am going to print them or use them onscreen, I'll always have a better looking form if I start with the table.
I have a theory about this, that every form begins with either seven columns or nine columns, depending on how much I want to cram in into a page. It doesn't always work that way, but it's a pretty good way to start. In my Table, on the very first row, I want to put a Name and a Date. Second row, an Email address and a Phone, and an Address, and then an area for office use. So, I'm going to create a table that is seven columns wide and about eight columns long. I could insert this table any way I wish. In order to make it look right from the start, far more like a Form than like a Table, I'm going to go to the Layout tab, and I am going to turn Gridlines on, here.
Then I'm going to go back to the Design tab, and I'm going to remove all of the Borders. So, all I see are my gridlines. I want my users to put their Name, and I'm going to have them enter a Date over here. So, they'll put a first name and space and a last name and space and a Date. On the second row, I am going to have then enter their Email address and a Phone. Now, just so you can see what I'm thinking about here, I am thinking that the Email address will take up a about that much space.
Actually, I don't need a ton of space between the first and the last name. So, here's a first name, and here's a last name. We'll give more space to the last name. Then here is a place for a Date and for a Phone number. Now, I'm going to create some space for an Address. So, when a user enters an e-mail address here, I don't want it to take up more space and then simply scoot things out of the way or run over.
I actually would like to give them lots of room to enter a long e-mail address. So, we're going to merge these cells together. We'll find the Merge command and the Split Cells command here on the Layout tab. So, I'm going to select the cells I want to merge together and choose Merge. Conversely, I can split cells. So, I'm going to have a place here for user to put a street address somewhere. Then I'll have them enter a city name, and I want to put state and Zip code here. I don't need it wandering all over to the right.
So, I am going to split this scell here into three cells. I select the cell I want to split, click Split Cells on the Layout tab, and then tell it the Number of columns or rows I want to split this into. So, now I have place for my state, abbreviation, and for my Zip code. Finally, I want an area at the bottom of my form that is for office use only, right here. So, here's the end of my form, and I want to create a space for office use only. I'm going to Merge all of these cells together and type "OFFICE USE ONLY" and we can center this.
Now I have an extra row below this, and that's a really good thing to have. For example, if I didn't have this last row. Now that I've merge these cells I were to Insert a new row Below, it will be a row just like the last row above it, which is one big row, not very useful. By keeping one leading edge here, one extra row that has all of the columns in it that I want, I have a place to be able to copy a row and use it over and over again.
So, always make sure that your last row is a formatted row, even if you are not sure that you'll need it yet. We are going to enter a Date here, and we are going to enter who received these items. Then we'll have a box for comments over here. So, I'd like people to be able to enter a lots of comments. I am going to create a really large Comments box. That's this whole area. Select all the cells and Merge them together. A couple of thoughts.
This is a lot of space to put a Date into, not entirely problematic, but I could give it less space, for example, and a lot of space for a Phone and a lot of space for Rec'd by. But let's add some lines now and see how we are looking. First, I need more room for Street address. So, let's Merge these before we leave. Now, let's begin to adding lines. We are going to add lines from the Design tab. We can either Draw lines using a Pen, or we can set Borders, and either one works.
So, we'll use both. For example, if I want to draw a line, I click and choose the line I want to draw. My pointer turns into a pen, and I can simply draw. I don't have to be good at this, by the way. I drew more of a line that I wanted to. I would like to be better than that. I did undo. So, I can just click on the line to draw lines. So, I'd like to have a line for Address. I can do it in several sections like this, because the line that's being drawn is on the top of the row below.
This is a reason actually to use the dropdown list rather than the Pen, because it's not clear whether you are drawing at the bottom of one cell or the top of another. I'd actually like to insert a line at the bottom for city, state and Zip. So, I'm simply going to choose a Bottom Border here. There is my city. Don't let that scare you. I just pointed to this and got a preview real quick. Now, I don't have to use the dropdown because the Bottom Border is on this button. It's the last item I selected. There is my state.
There is my Zip code. Here's my Street address. Here is my Email Address, first name and last name. Let's switch back to the Layout tab and turn off the Gridlines. You'll notice that we have a really nice-looking form here. Now, I might want to move the Address down and get rid of this row. I'm noticing it's a little more spacious than I'd like. I'd like some shading and little more space here. So, let's go back and make some of those choices. Let's turn our Gridlines back on. It's always easier to work in the table if I do.
I simply going to move Address to the next line and shade in this OFFICE USE ONLY, which I can easily do on the Design tab by choosing a Shading color. I might want to put a box all the way around this Comments section. Again, you can always turn your Gridlines off and see what the form is going to look like. No one would necessarily know that they can put comments here. So, let go back, and let's put a box all way around this cell that was several merged cells on the Outside.
Let's turn our Gridlines off again. You'll notice that we have a nice-looking form. Now, when I type in this form, notice that no lines move around, because they're not lines. They're actually borders, which makes it far easier to work with. You don't have to be creating a form to use the Merge Cells and Split Cells tools. There are other reasons you might want to merge some cells in a document or split some cells. Again, don't use Split to turn one column into two.
You can insert columns very easily. After you have merged cells, it becomes a little more difficult to select entire columns if the first cell is merged. For example, notice now that when I select this column, I pick up these other areas because they are also part of the cells that began in my second column. So realizing that after you've merged cells, it's not as easy for Word to determine what rows or columns are, you might want to take care of anything that you need to do for entire row or column before you begin merging or splitting.
Whether you're creating a form or simply merging a group of cells for any other type of a document that uses a table, it's very easy to merge, split, and format cells in Microsoft Word 2010.
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