Monday, March 26, 2012

Table It!...Part 16...Cell Alignment

One routine table task is selecting text alignment. Like cell padding, selecting text alignment adds to readability. Depending on what section of a table you've selected (a cell, a few cells, a row, a few rows, or the entire table), you can select an alignment.

Word 2003: Use the pop-up menu to select cell alignment.

Word 2007/2010: Use the pop-up menu or the alignment buttons in the Alignment group on the Layout tab of the Table Tools menu to select cell alignment.

  • Flush Left: Buttons on the left are flush left (top, middle, or bottom).
  • Flush Centered: Buttons in the middle are flush center (top, middle, or bottom).
  • Flush Right: Buttons on the right are flush right (top, middle, or bottom).

Changing Alignment
  1. Select part or all of a table (a cell, a few cells, a row, a few rows, or the entire table)
  2. Click a button with a different alignment.

By default, table alignment is flush left top. You can see that in the graphic above. Do you want to accept this default? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. Your selection depends on your table and what understanding you are trying to convey; for example, a flush right alignment is frequently used for a column that presents numerical amounts like money.

Heading Row(s)
The first row (or two or three rows) of your table are considered heading rows. They explain what information is contained in the columns that make up the table. As a general rule of thumb, I use an alignment that causes the text to be flush left bottom or flush centered bottom. The bottom alignment is a visual cue to my reader that this text is different. When I add bold and a gray fill (like you did in the sample), you tell your reader that the text in these cells are the key to the table.

Sub-Heading Row(s)
Sub-headings appear in the middle of the table visually dividing the table. Generally, I use a flush left alignment and then add bold and a fill color so that readers can easily see the visual break.

Table Entries
The data entries that I make in tables are usually flush left top (the default).

Getting Creative
I've made suggestions in this post for creating a basic business table. However, you should experiment with using alignment for a more decorative effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment