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If you’re looking to create a table with a more customized appearance than the basic structures we went over in Part 1 of this series, then you’ll want to try out the flexible drawing tools included with Microsoft Word 2007. We’ll start by going over the steps needed to create a new table using this methodology.
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Creating a New Table Using the Draw Feature
Open the Insert tab on the Word ribbon, and click on the arrow underneath Table. Select the Draw Table option.
After choosing this option, you’ll be returned to your Word document, and the mouse pointer will now be in the shape of a small pencil. Click and drag the mouse anywhere on the document page to draw a rectangle. This rectangle will be the first cell of your table.
Note that after you draw this first cell, two new tabs, Design and Layout, will appear on the Word ribbon on a larger tab entitled Table Tools. For the moment we are mostly concerned with the tools labeled Draw Table and Eraser that appear on the Design tab.
With the Draw Table tool, you can add additional cells either by drawing another rectangle as you did to create the first cell or by inserting additional lines that divide existing cells.
One great advantage that this method has over the basic table creation options discussed in Part 1 of this series is it gives you greater control over the size and shape of each cell in your table. In fact, this feature even lets you create tables with shapes other than the common rectangular ones that we’re all used to. To create some more interesting shapes, we’ll have to use the Eraser tool.
The Eraser tool allows you to remove a border from a cell in a table without changing the rest of the table. To use this feature, select Eraser from Design tab. This will change your mouse pointer into an object that is supposed to represent one of those white office erasers, but it looks more like a piece of chalk to me. After making this selection, you can erase any of the border lines in your table by clicking on them.
Combining the utility of the Draw Table and Eraser tools opens the door to being able to create a variety of custom tables that are more suited to hold your information. The table in the screenshot above could easily be converted into a step hierarchy table. With these functions, you could also easily construct a process flow chart or other business-related diagram.
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Editing an Existing Table Using the Draw Feature
If you really want to optimize table creation in Microsoft Word, you can combine the basic table creation options with the more advanced drawing features. You can start out be creating a table with a predefined number of rows and columns as discussed in Part 1 of this series. The following screenshot shows a sample 10 x 5 table created this way.
With the table selected, open the Design tab on the Word ribbon. You can now use the Draw Table and Eraser tools to modify this existing table. A few simple clicks with the Eraser tool gives us the following modified table.
Later in this series, we’ll go into more details about additional types of formatting you can apply to tables that will even further customize their appearance.
Drawing Custom Tables in Microsoft Word 2007
In this series, we’ll take a look at how charts and tables can be used in Microsoft Word 2007 documents to help illustrate important concepts and keep the reader’s attention.