Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Learning a few basic Winword table manners

By Zatni Arbi

JAKARTA (JP): In a recent tip inside the IT Superhighway box, I suggested that you open multiple instances of Winword if you needed to copy and paste repeatedly from one Winword document to another. I specifically stated that Microsoft failed to provide us with the ease of Ctrl-Tab, which would allow us to jump from one open Ami Pro or WordPerfect file to another. It has turned out that I was completely wrong.

A friend, Mr. Ian C. Bartlett, e-mailed me and reminded me that there was actually an equivalent of Ctrl-Tab in Winword, and that was Ctrl-F6. Thus, now you can ignore that tip of mine and open as many document files as necessary in a single Winword instance, and navigate between them with Ctrl-F6. To move back to the previously active document, you can press Ctrl-Shift-F6. Folks, let us all deeply thank Mr. Bartlett for this contribution.

Now, how can you find out what the function keys and their combinations with Ctrl, Alt and Shift do? If you run Office 97, just press F1. When the coquettish paper clip Office Assistant asks you what you want to do, type in "key combination" and hit Enter. Then click on Shortcut keys, which will be on top of the list of that the Assistant gives you. Scroll down the yellow page, and you'll find Use Function keys. Click on this one, and see whether you can memorize all the actions that these function keys perform. Or, if you click on Contents and Index under the Help menu item, you need to type in "function keys" in the provided box. You'll get the same list of functions.

Table tip

In the meantime, I've noticed that many of my colleagues and friends are still at loss when they have to create a table in Winword, which is actually quite simple if you know the basic steps. Perhaps it is the wide range of tools available in Winword that create a mental block in them. Therefore, this time I'll go through the really novice steps of creating a table in Winword, with the hope that you can all create fairly decent-looking tables after this.

First of all, you need to check whether you have the Standard toolbar already available on the screen. Place the cursor anywhere on the menu bar, and click the right mouse button. You'll get a list of all Winword toolbars that can be called onto the screen. Observe whether the Standard toolbar, which is right on top of the list, is already checked. If it's not, click on it to have it appear on the screen.

If the Standard toolbar is already on the screen, place the cursor where you want the table to start and find the Insert Table icon on the toolbar (you'll find it next to the Excel icon, which is readily recognizable for its green X symbol). Click on this icon, and you'll have a grid like the one you see in the accompanying picture. You can specify the number of columns and rows you want the table to contain by dragging the cursor down and to the right. As always, you can add or delete the columns and rows later.

The moment you let go of the mouse button, the table will be drawn on the screen, as in the example. Putting the text inside each cell is straightforward, as long as you remember that hitting the Tab key will take you from one cell to the next, and holding down Shift as you press the Tab key will take you from one cell to the previous one. That is the first thing you need to know.

If you don't feel comfortable with clicking and dragging, never mind. You can insert a table in your document using the menu. Click on Table, and then on Insert Table. You'll be asked to specify the number of columns and rows, and even the overall look of the table. As you may already have heard, Winword comes with over 35 preset table formats that you can choose from. Click OK, and you'll have the table in your document all the same.

Adding spice

Remember that, when you arrive at the bottom right corner of the table, you can add another row just by pressing the Tab key. For that reason, you don't really need to be exact about the number of rows when you first set up the table. However, adding a new column is more complex, because, unlike adding more rows to the bottom of your table, you can't expand the table indefinitely to the right. Thus, before you can add another column to your table, you'll have to shift the borders of the existing columns to the left. This can be done easily by placing the cursor right on top of the border line and wait until the cursor changes into a two-headed arrow. Then you can drag it to the left. Be sure that no cell is selected (blackened) when you're doing this, because the drag will affect only the selected cells.

Once you have cleared the space for the new column, you have to place the cursor just on top of the rightmost column until it changes to a downward arrow. Click with the right mouse button, and from the menu list that appears select Insert Column. The new column, unfortunately, will appear to the left of the selected column.

Next, to align the text of the heading row of the table to the center of each cell, as shown in the example, you have to select all the cells by sweeping your cursor over them with the left mouse button pressed, and then press Ctrl-E. While you're at it, you can also press Ctrl-B to change the text to bold, which is more appropriate for the heading.

Sometimes, after you've moved the column borders around, you might want the columns to have the same width. To achieve this, select all the columns with your mouse, and then click on Table, Distribute Column Evenly. All the selected columns will now have the same width.

If you want to merge two or more cells as seen on the bottom left corner of the sample table, just select them and then click on Table, Merge cells. Similarly, you can break one cell into two by clicking on Table and Split Cell.

Finally, if you want to place the table in the center of the page, you have to select the entire table first. With the cursor placed inside the table, click on Table, and then Select Table. Once the entire table is selected, click on Table again and then on Cell Height and Width. In the dialog box that appears, find Alignment and then click on Center. The table will now sit right in the middle between the left and right margins.

If you feel like it, you can even learn to draw the table. Just click on Table menu item, and then Draw Table. This is very handy in creating irregularly shaped tables. Try it.