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Tables can be difficult to read. Adding shaded bands to a table improves readability and really just makes it look better. Here’s how you can add striping to your Excel tables.

Inserting a Table in Word

First, you need to add a table. Switch to the “Insert” tab and then click the “Table” button.

Insert tables in Word

The drop-down menu lets you create your own table or use one of Microsoft’s built-in tables. To find these built-in tables, hover your mouse over “Quick Tables,” and another menu will appear. Here, you can select the table you need—calendars, tabular lists, tables with subheads, etc.

Quick Table selection

If the table style you want isn’t on the built-in list, there are several options for building your own. One of the quicker options, assuming you’ll only be needing a 10×8 or smaller table, is to use Word’s table builder.

Back under the “Table” menu, hover your mouse over the number of columns and rows you want. For example, if you wanted a table that had four columns and five rows, it would look something like this:

Insert Table quick grid

If you need something bigger than that, first click the “Insert Table…” option.

Select Insert Table Option

The Insert Table window lets you create a table of up to 63 columns and 32,767 rows. Additionally, it enables you to manipulate the autofit behavior and save your settings for future tables. Enter your table specs, select your autofit preferences, and then click “OK.” In this example, we’ll make a 4×15 table.

customize table size

Adding Borders and Shading

Let’s play around with our table a little. First, let’s get rid of some of the borders, starting with the top row.

On our top row, we’re going to remove the left, right, and top border, while leaving the bottom. To do so, highlight the entire top row. On the “Design” tab, click “Borders.”

borders options

In the menu that appears, deselect Top, Left, Right, and Inside Borders.

remove borders 1

Next, highlight all but the first and second row on the first column, head back to the border menu, and deselect Bottom, Top, Left, and Inside Borders.

remove borders 2

Finally, on the first column, highlight the box on the second row, go back to the border menu, and deselect Left Border.

remove borders 3

Now we should have a table that looks like this:

table after borders removed

Let’s try to improve the readability by adding stripes to our table. Highlight the second row of your table. On the “Design” tab, select “Shading.”

Shading options

Select the color you’d like to use for your highlighted row. We’ll select the lightest shade of blue.

theme colors

As you can see, the second row will be a light shade of blue. Go ahead and repeat this for each even-numbered row. Once you do, your table will look like this:

Finished table

Now we have a custom table with striped rows. There’s a lot you can do with this feature, so play around with it and make the best table you can!

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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