Monday, March 12, 2012

Table It!...Part 12...Cell Padding

We've been working on a table using the Table Properties. After you insert a table, you display the properties by right clicking anywhere in a table to display a popup menu, and then selecting Table Properties from the menu.

The last item on the Table tab that we need to look at is Options. Click the Options button to display a popup.

Default cell margins
The fields Top, Bottom, Left, and Right control the distance between the cell border and the text within the cell. The space is also referred to as cell padding, which is white space. White space enhances the readability of a document. Thus cell padding makes the contents of a cell easier to read because a reader can readily distinguish text from border lines...think in terms of old eyes.

If you look closely at the details of rows in the samples below, you'll see that the second version is longer. Click the sample and you'll see that the second table has more white space above and below the text within the cell. To be precise, the top and bottom cell padding is 0.08". You'll need to play with these settings to see what you like. My preferred setting is 0.03" for all four settings.

Click the graphic to see a larger version of it.
Press the ESC key to return to this post.

If you stop and think about this, you already know another way to control the space before and after text...our good old friend Styles. If you create a style named TableCell, you can use it to control the space before and after text with the style applied to it. In addition, if you create a style names TableHead, you can add the bold attribute and apply it when you apply the style to the heading line of a table. Creating styles to control space and attributes is yet another example of the choices you make when deciding how to affect text in a document. The choices are what make Word so useful to its many fans.

Default cell spacing (Allow spacing between cells)
Click the check box to enable the size-field arrows (called spinners). The size field defaults to 0.01. Change the setting to 0.03 and then click OK to apply the setting. Word creates a table within a border. This option is one of the decorative elements that you can use to create interesting table layouts.

Options (Automatically resize to fit contents)
Accept the default to have the table resize itself automatically based on the size of cell contents. This option applies to eventual width of the table. I never use this control. There are too many other places where you can control width that are much easier to display and use than this particular control.

What You Should Take Away
Controlling cell padding adds to the readability of your tables and you have one option on the Table Options dialog to create a decorative table.

Next Post
We'll be looking at the next tab on the Table Properties: Row. This tab includes options that are useful for long tables that cover more than one page.

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