Creating tables in Word is easy using the commands on the ribbon. However, if you want to quickly create a table without removing your hands from the keyboard, you can easily create a basic table using the keyboard.

NOTE: We used Word 2016 to illustrate this feature. However, it also works in Word 2013.

To create a basic table, with one row and three columns for example, make sure the cursor is on a new line, then type four plus signs separated by spaces (plus, space, plus, space…) and press “Enter”.

A single row, three column table is created. The columns may be narrow and you probably want more than one row, but it’s a start.

NOTE: You can also create the table using vertical bars instead of plus signs.

Typing text into a column will expand it until you type the first space, then the text will automatically wrap.

If you want wider columns in your table, separate the plus signs or vertical bars with dashes. The more dashes you add, the wider the columns will be. For example, we typed ten dashes between the plus signs.

Once you press “Enter”, a table with wider columns is created.

If this process of creating a table using the keyboard is not working, there’s a setting you need to turn on to make it work. Click the “File” tab.

On the backstage screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

On the “Word Options” dialog box, click “Proofing” in the list of items on the left.

In the “AutoCorrect options” section, click the “AutoCorrect Options” button.

The “AutoCorrect” dialog box displays, showing the current language in the title bar. Click the “AutoFormat As You Type” tab.

In the “Apply as you type” section, select the “Tables” check box. Then, click “OK”.

You are returned to the “Word Options” dialog box. Click “OK” to close it.

Once you have the table the size you want, you can freeze the size of the cells.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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