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Using a table of contents in your document makes it easier for the reader to navigate. You can generate a table of contents in Word from the headings used in your document. Here’s how to do it.
Add a Table of Contents
Regardless of the size of your document, using a table of contents can direct the reader to exactly where they need to be. In addition to making the document more reader-friendly, a table of contents also makes it easier for the author to go back and add or remove content if necessary.
By default, Word generates a table of contents using the first three built-in heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3). To apply heading styles, select the particular style from the “Home” tab. If you’re not happy with the types of heading styles available, you can change the default heading style.
You can manage this in two different ways. You can either apply the heading styles to each section after you’ve finished the document, or you can add them as you go.
Once you’ve applied your heading styles, it’s time to insert your table of contents. The first thing you need to do is put the cursor where you want the table of contents to appear. Once ready, head over to the “References” tab and select “Table of Contents.”
A drop-down menu will appear. Here, you can choose between the three different built-in tables.
The only difference between Automatic Table 1 and 2 is the title, which is “Contents” and “Table of Contents,” respectively. Selecting either Automatic Table 1 or 2 will create the table of contents using the names of the headings.
If you chose the “Manual Table” option from the “Table of Contents” drop-down menu, then it will insert a template for you that you will need to edit yourself.
You may notice in this table of contents that there are sub-levels. Each level represents a heading style in your document. So if you use the automatic table and you want sub-levels in your ToC, you will need to use heading 1 for level 1, heading 2 for level 2, and heading 3 for level 3.
Updating the Table of Contents
Your table of contents will now be updated.
Removing the Table of Contents
At the bottom of the drop-down menu, select “Remove Table of Contents.”
Your table of contents will now be removed from your document.
This article was originally published on January 1, 2006.
If you’re a regular reader on TechRepublic, you may have seen my series covering various features in Microsoft Excel. While I am finished with that particular series (unless you send ideas for things you’d like to see, of course!), I will be tying this new series -all about Word-in with Excel fairly tightly.
That said, I won’t be doing much integrating with Excel in this particular article, which focuses on tables in Microsoft Word.
A little about this series
I mentioned above that tables are useful for a number of purposes. To that end, I will focus on two common uses of tables after providing an introduction:
How tables work
Using tables to create professional-looking forms
A lot about tables
The tables feature is so useful and popular in Word that Microsoft has devoted an entire menu ( Figure A) to this feature.
Over the course of this three-article series, we’ll cover every option on this menu.
Into this grid, you can put anything you like: text, numbers, pictures — whatever goes into Word will go into a table, too.
Creating a table
When you use the Insert Table button, you get a miniature grid. Using this grid, you tell Word how large you would like your table. In Figure C, a table that is three columns wide and two rows deep would be created. If you make a mistake with the number of rows and columns, don’t worry too much about it. You can always change it later.
In Figure D, notice that the dialog box tells you exactly how many rows and columns will be created for your new table — in this case, five columns and two rows. If you go this route, again, don’t worry if you make a mistake.
For example, rather than the usual row and column format, you could create a table that looks something like the one shown in Figure E.
Navigating your table
Adding and deleting rows and columns
It’s easy to add rows to the end of your table, but what if you need to sneak something in between two rows you already have, or you need to add a column? What about deleting a row or column? No problem.
Shortcuts for adding and deleting rows and columns
Formatting your table
Just like everything else in Word, your table can be formatted with different fonts, colors, line styles, and more. And even after your table is initially created, you can add and remove borders to create a custom table like the one you saw in Figure E.
Changing the line weight, color, and style
Most tables have some kind of grid. But in Word, you can keep the table and remove the grid, change the grid line style to some other type, and change the color of the lines altogether.
On the toolbar ( Figure I), the four options to the right of the Eraser button handle the line styles in your table.
Figure K below shows you an example of what different borders might look like in your table.
Changing the alignment in each cell
You can also change the position of the text in each individual cell in your table. In some cells, you might want the text centered both horizontally and vertically, while in another cell, you might want the text aligned at the bottom-right corner. This is where the cell alignment options come in ( Figure L).
Using this drop-down list, you can quickly change the position of text in your table. Take a look at Figure M to see an example of what you can do. Figure M shows you all of the available alignment options.
Distribute rows and columns
Are you a neat freak? Or do you just want to make sure that your table looks professional? One way you can do that is to make sure your rows and columns are sized appropriately. For example, if you’re showing monthly budget information, your column widths for each month should look the same rather than being all different sizes. Take a look at Figure N to see what I mean.
It’s actually easy to make your table look neat: Use the Distribute Rows Evenly and Distribute Columns Evenly buttons on the toolbar ( Figure O).
You can also manually change the width of a column or the height of a row ( Figure P). When you’re in your table, take a look at both your horizontal and your vertical ruler bars. Each one is broken up with a control that just happens to be at the break point for each row and column.
From this window, you can peruse the multitude of styles provided by Word, make a modification to one of the templates, or even create your own style. The AutoFormat option allows you to specify which areas you will apply to your table. For example, if you don’t have a header row on your table, you might now want to have the special boldfaced heading text, so you can deselect the Heading Rows option. Figure R shows you the results of using AutoFormat on the mini-budget table. Note that every other line is shaded in this example. Doing that manually on a large table could take quite some time.
Creating, customizing, and formatting tables in Word is largely a function of the specialized Tables And Borders toolbar. With Word, you can create tables of practically any size and shape.
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Word 2007, part of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite, has many built-in features that can enhance your documents and the manner in which you communicate information to your audience. One of the most common and yet still useful features in this category is the table format. Creating and formatting tables in Word 2007 is different from how you did it Word 2003, but you may actually find it easier.
Create a table
You can also choose one of the first two items from the list shown in Figure B and insert a table by way of the Insert Table dialog box ( Figure D) or by drawing a table.
Several pre-made table templates are available on the Insert tab listed under the Quick Tables item ( Figure F). You can insert calendars, double tables, and tabular lists, to name just a few.
Format a table
Once you create a table and populate it with data, the next step is to format the table. Proper formatting will help your table convey just the information you want it to.
Design Ribbon under Table Tools
As part of the Office 2007 interface, additional tabs and menu items are revealed to the user when they are needed. In this case, a new high-level tab, Table Tools, is added to the interface whenever you are interacting with a table element inside a Word document. The two tabs under Table Tools contain all of the various formatting tools you need to customize your table.
In Word 2007, whenever you are inside a table within your document, the Ribbon interface changes to the Design Ribbon under Table Tools ( Figure G).
From the Design Ribbon, you can set format characteristics like header row, first column, shading, borders, and color. You can use one of the predefined styles listed on the Ribbon or you can create something on your own. These format settings can be applied to a specific cell, row, column, or to the entire table.
The Design Ribbon also includes a section where you can set the type of line you would like to use, the point size of that line, and the color of that line ( Figure H).
In another area on the Design Ribbon under Table Tools, you can set shading and place or remove border lines. The number of choices offers you a tremendous amount of formatting flexibility ( Figure I).
Layout Ribbon under Table Tools
Additional formatting options are available on the Layout Ribbon under Table Tools, shown in Figure J.
Among the more important formatting decisions you will have to make about your table is how to align it on the page and how to space the cells within the table itself.
Aligning individual cells, rows, columns, and the entire table can all be accomplished with the buttons located in the Alignment section of the Layout Ribbon (Figure J) under Table Tools. You can also change text direction and cell margins in this area of the Ribbon ( Figure L).
The Layout Ribbon (Figure J) under Table Tools is also where you can insert rows and columns into your table, either at the ends or in between existing rows and columns.
Microsoft Office 2007 includes numerous themes and templates for each of the applications in the suite, including Word 2007 tables. One of the features that differentiates Office 2007 from Office 2003 is the ability to preview these templates and themes before you commit to them. Figure N shows a simple table with basic formatting. Holding the mouse over the Table Styles shown on the Design Ribbon (Figure G) under Table Tools will preview what the table would like if that pre-made style were applied ( Figure O).
As you can see, the way you create and format tables in Word 2007 is different from the way you performed the same task in Office 2003 and earlier. However, the Ribbon interface actually makes sense when you are working on tables in Word. It may take some getting used to, but I think in the long run, the Ribbon will be seen as a beneficial feature and not a drawback.
The pivot table is one of Microsoft Excel’s most powerful — and intimidating — functions. Powerful because it can help you summarize and make sense of large data sets. Intimidating because you’re not exactly an Excel expert, and pivot tables have always had a reputation for being complicated.
The good news: Learning how to create a pivot table in Excel is much easier than you might’ve been led to believe.
But before we walk you through process of creating one, let’s take a step back and make sure you understand exactly what a pivot table is, and why you might need to use one.
What Is a Pivot Table?
A pivot table is a summary of your data, packaged in a chart that lets you report on and explore trends based on your information. Pivot tables are particularly useful if you have long rows or columns that hold values you need to track the sums of and easily compare to one another.
In other words, pivot tables extract meaning from that seemingly endless jumble of numbers on your screen. And more specifically, it lets you group your data together in different ways so you can draw helpful conclusions more easily.
The “pivot” part of a pivot table stems from the fact that you can rotate (or pivot) the data in the table in order to view it from a different perspective. To be clear, you’re not adding to, subtracting from, or otherwise changing your data when you make a pivot. Instead, you’re simply reorganizing the data so you can reveal useful information from it.
How to Use Pivot Tables
If you’re still feeling a bit confused about what pivot tables actually do, don’t worry. This is one of those technologies that’s much easier to understand once you’ve seen it in action. Here are seven hypothetical scenarios where you’d want to use a pivot table.
1. Compare sales totals of different products.
Say you have a worksheet that contains monthly sales data for three different products — product 1, product 2, and product 3 — and you want to figure out which of the three has been bringing in the most bucks. You could, of course, look through the worksheet and manually add the corresponding sales figure to a running total every time product 1 appears. You could then do the same for product 2, and product 3, until you have totals for all of them. Piece of cake, right?
Now, imagine that monthly sales worksheet of yours has thousands and thousands of rows. Manually sorting through them all could take a lifetime. Using a pivot table, you can automatically aggregate all of the sales figures for product 1, product 2, and product 3 — and calculate their respective sums — in less than a minute.
2. Show product sales as percentages of total sales.
Pivot tables naturally show the totals of each row or column when you create it. But that’s not the only figure you can automatically produce.
Let’s say you entered quarterly sales numbers for three separate products into an Excel sheet and turned this data into a pivot table. The table would automatically give you three totals at the bottom of each column — having added up each product’s quarterly sales. But what if you wanted to find the percentage these product sales contributed of all company sales, rather than just those products’ sales totals?
With a pivot table, you can configure each column to give you the column’s percentage of all three column totals, instead of just the column total. If three product sales totaled $200,000 in sales, for example, and the first product made $45,000, you can edit a pivot table to instead say this product contributed 22.5% of all company sales.
3. Combine duplicate data.
That’s where the pivot table comes into play. Instead of having to manually search for and combine all the metrics from the duplicates, you can summarize your data (via pivot table) by blog post title, and voilà: the view metrics from those duplicate posts will be aggregated automatically.
4. Get an employee head count for separate departments.
Pivot tables are helpful for automatically calculating things that you can’t easily find in a basic Excel table. One of those things is counting rows that all have something in common.
If you have a list of employees in an Excel sheet, for instance, and next to the employees’ names are the respective departments they belong to, you can create a pivot table from this data that shows you each department name and the number of employees that belong to those departments. The pivot table effectively eliminates your task of sorting the Excel sheet by department name and counting each row manually.
5. Add default values to empty cells.
Not every dataset you enter into Excel will populate every cell. If you’re waiting for new data to come in before entering it into Excel, you might have lots of empty cells that look confusing or need further explaining when showing this data to your manager. That’s where pivot tables come in.
You can easily customize a pivot table to fill empty cells with a default value, such as $0, or TBD (for “to be determined”). For large tables of data, being able to tag these cells quickly is a useful feature when many people are reviewing the same sheet.
How to Create a Pivot Table
Enter your data into a range of rows and columns.
Sort your data by a specific attribute.
Highlight your cells to create your pivot table.
Drag and drop a field into the “Row Labels” area.
Drag and drop a field into the “Values” area.
Fine-tune your calculations.
Now that you have a better sense of what pivot tables can be used for, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually create one.
1. Enter your data into a range of rows and columns.
Every pivot table in Excel starts with a basic Excel table, where all your data is housed. To create this table, simply enter your values into a specific set of rows and columns. Use the topmost row or the topmost column to categorize your values by what they represent.
For example, to create an Excel table of blog post performance data, you might have a column listing each “URL,” a column listing each URL’s “Post Title,” a column listing each post’s “Views to Date,” and so on. (We’ll be using that example in the steps that follow.)
2. Sort your data by a specific attribute.
When you have all the data you want entered into your Excel sheet, you’ll want to sort this data in some way so it’s easier to manage once you turn it into a pivot table.
Select “OK” on the bottom-right of the Sort window, and you’ll successfully reorder each row of your Excel sheet by the number of views each blog post has received.
3. Highlight your cells to create your pivot table.
Alternatively, you can highlight your cells, select “Recommended PivotTables” to the right of the PivotTable icon, and open a pivot table with pre-set suggestions for how to organize each row and column.
Note: If you’re using a version of Excel earlier than Excel 2016, “PivotTables” may be under “Tables” or “Data” along the top navigation, rather than “Insert.” In Google Sheets, you can create pivot tables from the “Data” dropdown along the top navigation.
4. Drag and drop a field into the “Row Labels” area.
Note: Your pivot table may look different depending on which version of Excel you’re working with. However, the general principles remain the same.
5. Drag and drop a field into the “Values” area.
Once you’ve established what you’re going to organize your data by, your next step is to add in some values by dragging a field into the “Values” area.
Sticking with the blogging data example, let’s say you want to summarize blog post views by title. To do this, you’d simply drag the “Views” field into the Values area.
6. Fine-tune your calculations.
The sum of a particular value will be calculated by default, but you can easily change this to something like average, maximum, or minimum depending on what you want to calculate.
Digging Deeper With Pivot Tables
You’ve now learned the basics of pivot table creation in Excel. But depending on what you need your pivot table for, you might not be done.
For example, you may notice that the data in your pivot table isn’t sorted the way you’d like. If were the case, Excel’s Sort function can help you out. Alternatively, you may need to incorporate data from another source into your reporting, in which case the VLOOKUP function could come in handy.
To take a deeper dive into the world of Excel and learn about its various functions, download our comprehensive guide, How to Use Excel.
Want more Excel tips? Check out these design tips for creating charts and graphs.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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