Adding borders to tables in Word can help organize information visually, making it easier for readers to follow. Formatting these borders by customizing the line style, color, and width can further improve clarity and aesthetics. This article will walk you through the steps to format table borders in Word.
Select the Table and Access the Design Tab
The first step is to select the table you want to format. Click anywhere in the table to select it. This will display the Table Tools Design tab.
Table tools design tab
The Design tab contains all the main formatting options for borders and shading.
Choose a Border Style
In the Draw Borders group, open the Border Styles gallery. Here you can select one of the premade border styles, which will apply a coordinated set of borders to your table.
If none of the presets suit your needs, choose the line style, color, and width for your border instead.
Border styles gallery
The line style menu includes options like solid, dotted, and dashed lines. The line weight menu controls the thickness of the borders. And the pen color menu provides color options.
Click on Individual Borders to Format
With the border options set, click on each individual border line around the cells to apply the selected style. You’ll see the pencil mouse pointer when borders can be drawn.
- To add a border, click where you want the line to appear.
- To change a border, click directly on the existing line.
- To erase borders, select the eraser tool and click on the border to remove it.
When you’re done formatting borders, click outside the table or press Esc to exit the border drawing tool.
Click on cell borders to format
Format Individual Cell Borders
By default, your border choices will apply to all four sides of the cells you click on. To format individual borders of a cell:
- Select the cell(s)
- Open the Borders menu on the Design tab
- Choose which border to apply the formatting to e.g. Top Border
This will let you customize different sides separately.
Add Border Effects
For extra styling, open the Borders and Shading dialog box from the Design tab. Here you can add effects like shadow, 3D, and graphic styles to make your table borders stand out.
Border effects menu
Try combining a thick colored border with an inner shadow for a high-impact header row or column.
Save Custom Border Styles
If you create a border format you want to reuse later, save it as a new style from the Border Styles gallery. Click the More button and choose New Border Style at the bottom. Name your style and it will appear in the gallery for quick access.
Remove Cell Borders Entirely
To remove borders from specific cells, select them and choose No Border from the Borders menu. Or use the Eraser border tool to remove them by clicking.
For an invisible table grid, clear all borders by selecting the entire table and choosing No Border. The cells will remain but without defined lines between them.
Add Table Shading
Similar to borders, you can color individual cells or rows to make parts of your table stand out. Select cells and pick a shading color from the Design tab to fill them.
Use subtle shading to delineate groups of cells. Or opt for bright background colors to draw attention to totals and highlights.
Table with colored and shaded cells
Match your shading hues to complement the border colors for a cohesive style.
See Your Formatting Instantly
The benefit of Word’s border drawing tool is that you can preview the results live. Experiment with different looks simply by clicking and adjusting the styles until you achieve the desired effect.
For more control, dive into the advanced settings in the Borders and Shading dialog box to customize spacing, patterns, widths, and alignment.
Enhance Understanding with Well-Formatted Tables
Strategically applying borders, shading, and other formatting to Word tables helps guide readers by distinguishing data points, totals, categories, headers, and other elements. This improves comprehension, especially when presenting complex information concisely.
With the techniques covered here, you can spend less time building tables from scratch and more time perfecting them with purposeful formatting choices. Thoughtfully designed tables make your documents more professional, polished, and effective.