Custom table in Word

While you can easily insert a table with any number of columns and rows into your document, you may need a table that’s unconventional in structure. Using the Draw Table feature in Microsoft Word, you can create a custom table.

Draw a Table in Word

The Draw Table feature is available in Microsoft Word on both Windows and Mac. It works the same way and allows you to create a table exactly as you want.

To draw your table, go to the Insert tab and click the Table drop-down arrow. Select “Draw Table.”

Select Draw Table

You’ll see your cursor change to a pencil icon. Drag to draw the outline of the table first. You can make it any size you need and use a square or a rectangle.

Cursor changes to a pencil

Next, draw the columns, rows, or individual cells. Unlike ordinary tables you insert, you have the freedom to make columns or rows that don’t necessarily line up.

Custom drawn table in Word

One thing to keep in mind is that you must connect your lines. For instance, you can’t make a half line if there’s nothing to connect it to. As you draw your lines, you’ll see them as dimmed dotted lines.

Dotted line as you draw

If you use Word on Mac, any line that cannot be placed because there’s no connecting line will briefly appear in red and then vanish.

Red line on Mac

You can also make nested tables with the drawing tool. Once you create the base for the table, simply draw another square or rectangle inside of it.

Nested table in Word

To remove a line, click “Eraser” on the Layout tab.

This changes your cursor from a pencil to an eraser. Then, drag over or click the line you want to remove. When you finish using the Eraser, click “Eraser” in the ribbon again to deselect it or press Escape.

Erase lines in a table

When you’re done drawing the table, you’ll also need to turn off the Draw Table feature and return your cursor to its original state. Deselect “Draw Table” in the ribbon on the Layout tab or press Escape.

Deselect Draw Table

Note: A second Layout tab appears on the right side of the Table Design tab when you use this feature.

Customize the Table

You can use the customization options on the Table Design tab for a drawn table the same as an inserted one. Select the table and head to that tab to adjust things like shading, line types, and border styles.

Table Design tab

You can also adjust properties for the table such as alignment, text wrapping, indentation, and alt text. Right-click the table and choose “Table Properties” in the shortcut menu or click “Properties” in the floating toolbar to display your options.

Table Properties

Having gone against Word’s conventional structured table options, you may also be interested in shunning Microsoft’s standard typefaces and adding your own fonts to Word.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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