How to Merge and Split Tables and Cells in Microsoft Word

637973 How to Merge and Split Tables and Cells in Microsoft Word

Working with tables is an essential skill for creating professional Word documents. However, the default tables may not always meet your specific needs for layout or formatting. Fortunately, Word provides flexibility through features to merge and split tables and cells to customize your tables. This article will walk through the various ways to merge and split tables and cells in Word to help you format your tables exactly how you envision them.

Merging Table Cells

Merging cells in a Word table combines multiple cells into one larger cell. Reasons you may want to merge cells include:

  • Creating a spanning header row
  • Making room for more text or graphics in one cell
  • Simplifying the layout of the table

Merge Multiple Cells

To merge two or more cells:

  1. Select the cells you wish to merge by clicking and dragging across the cells.
  2. Navigate to the Layout tab on the Table Tools toolbar.
  3. Click the Merge Cells button in the Merge group.

The selected cells will merge into one larger cell.

Tip: To merge non-adjacent cells, hold the CTRL key while selecting the cells before clicking Merge Cells.

Merge Entire Rows or Columns

To merge all cells across entire rows or columns:

  1. Select the rows or columns by clicking the row/column header.
  2. Right click and choose Merge Cells from the context menu.

The table will update, merging the contents of the row or column into one cell.

Splitting Table Cells

Splitting cells does the opposite of merging – it divides one cell into multiple new cells. Reasons for splitting cells include:

  • Adding more rows or columns to the table
  • Separating data that is better presented in different cells
  • Restoring merged cells back to their original state

Split a Cell into Multiple Cells

To split a cell:

  1. Select the cell you wish to split.
  2. Navigate to the Layout tab.
  3. Click the Split Cells button.
  4. Select the number of columns and rows to split the cell into.

The original cell will split into the configured number of new cells.

Tip: You can also right click the cell and choose Split Cells to avoid navigating to the Layout tab.

Split Table Rows and Columns

To split entire rows or columns:

  1. Select the row/column header you want to split
  2. Right click and choose Split Cells
  3. Enter the number of columns or rows to split into.

The rows or columns will divide per your configuration.

Merging Tables

In addition to cells, you can also merge entire tables together into one larger table. Reasons for merging tables include:

  • Combining data sets together into the same table
  • Simplifying page layout with one table instead of many
  • Organizing content before/after comparisons into one table

To merge tables:

  1. Select the table you want to merge into by clicking its outer border.
  2. Navigate to the Layout tab.
  3. Click the Merge Tables dropdown button.
  4. Select the secondary table to merge.

The tables will now become one larger table with the original table cells below the primary table.

Note: Merging tables may produce unexpected formatting changes to border styles, alignment, etc. due to conflicts between the table styles.

Splitting Tables

Splitting a table divides one table into two separate tables. Reasons to split a table include:

  • Isolating certain data into its own table
  • Customizing formatting differently per table
  • Improving readability for long tables by splitting into logical sections

To split a table:

  1. Place your cursor in the row where you want the split to occur.
  2. Navigate to the Layout tab.
  3. Click the Split Table button.

The table now becomes two separate tables split at the row you selected.

Tip: You can select an entire row before splitting to keep all the content above the split as one table.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use cell merging cautiously as it can complicate layout changes later. Consider using [text boxes] as an alternative.
  • To undo a merge or split action, use the CTRL + Z shortcut immediately afterwards.
  • Merging cells can cause issues with [cell references] in formulas.
  • Customize split behaviors by right clicking Split Cells and changing the default rows/columns.
  • Use Distribute Rows/Columns buttons to quickly unmerge cells.

Common Issues

Here are some common issues you may encounter:

  • Merging cells can override formatting of the cells. Make formatting adjustments afterwards if needed.
  • If a split cell causes data to spill into an adjacent table, try increasing row height/column width before splitting again.
  • Take care when merging tables with defined table styles, as unexpected style changes may occur.

With the skills to effortlessly merge and split tables and cells, you can customize the structure of your Word tables to present your data in the most readable and organized way. By following best practices around merging cautiously and watching for formatting changes, you will avoid common pitfalls.

What other table formatting do you find essential for professional documents? Let me know in the comments!


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