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Creating Tables from Existing Text in Microsoft Word 2007

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 12/29/2009

In the continuation of this series on using charts and tables in Microsoft Word 2007, we’ll show how you can use the text conversion feature to build a table around pre-existing text.

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    Have you ever gotten half-way through typing up a long list in a Microsoft Word document, and then thought the information would look better presented in a table? If so, you don’t have to start all over by creating a new table and re-entering your data. Microsoft Word 2007 has a feature that allows you to convert existing text into a table layout that you can then modify and format as much as you like.

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    Converting Text to a Table

    Let’s suppose that we were creating a birthday list in Microsoft Word, and after making a few entries, we decided we wanted to convert that list into a table. The first thing we want to do is select all of the text that we want the table to include. (Click the following image for a larger view.)

    Birthday List 

    Next, open the Insert tab on the Word ribbon. From the Table dropdown menu, select Convert Text to Table.

    Convert Text to Table 

    This action will open a dialog box asking for more information about your table construction. The options here will be prefilled with Word’s best “guesses” on how you want the table layout to appear, but these guesses often need to be modified. First double check to make sure that the proper number of columns has been chosen. In our example, we want two columns – one for name and one for birthday. Also make sure that the proper character has been chosen for the Separate text at field. We used a comma for our birthday list, so we’ll select that option.

    Table Conversion Options 

    Note: The Convert Text to Table feature works better with some separators (or delimiters) than others. In general, it’s best to try and stay away from using tabs and spaces to separate your data if you want to use this feature. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to do a lot of additional formatting, and that defeats the purpose of using this shortcut method in the first place. Characters such as commas and semi-colons work much better.

    After you’ve finished making modifications, click OK to continue. The data will now be converted to table form in your Word document as shown in the following image.

    Converted Birthday List 

    While this table does look a lot nicer than our original list, it would look even better with some formatting and design applied to it. In the next article of this series, we’ll talk more about how you can “pretty up” a table in Microsoft Word.

Using Tables and Charts 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.
  1. Microsoft Word 2007: Basics on Table Creation
  2. Drawing Custom Tables in Microsoft Word 2007
  3. Creating Tables from Existing Text in Microsoft Word 2007
  4. Applying Formats and Design Elements to Tables in Microsoft Word 2007
  5. Importing Excel Data into Microsoft Word 2007