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Working with tables

Learn the basics of working with tables in Microsoft Word!

Microsoft Word has a very large number of formatting options for tables. While these options work very well in Microsoft Word for printed documents, you must remember that the eForms you design in Microsoft Word will be converted into web pages that display in a web browser. Web pages have a much more limited palette of table options. To enable your eForm to display well in a web browser, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, do not try to merge table cells or create complicated table structures. For example, the sample table below would be difficult to display as a web page, because the table structure has asymmetrical rows that make it too complicated to translate well into a web page.

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Table structures should be simple and symmetrical. Sometimes, of course, you need a more complicated structure. You can achieve this by nesting tables, that it, inserting a second table inside an outer table's cells. Nested tables translate well into web pages.

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Do not try to manually set column widths in a table. Instead, the best practice is to set the table to "AutoFit to Contents" or "AutoFit to Window". You can do this by selecting the table, and then right-clicking on the selected table. Once you do so, a table formatting drop-down menu will appear.

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If you select "AutoFit to Window" the table will expand horizontally to fill the page from side to side. If you select "AutoFit to Contents" The table will contract horizontally to fit the size of the controls and text in the table's cells. You should use one of these formatting options, rather than attempting to manually set the widths of table columns, as manual width settings may not convert into a web page in the way you might expect.

In contrast, some formatting options in Word do translate well into web pages. If you set table styles for borders and shading, you can expect this to translate well. Using the table styles can make your tables more attractive, and Word comes with a large gallery of table styles you can apply to your tables. For example, in this guide, the Word table style "Grid Table 4 – Accent 5", which provides an attractive blue color to table rows, has been applied to the Expenses table in the Sample eForm.

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