Xu Hướng 9/2023 # Tables And Other Formatting Controls # Top 18 Xem Nhiều | Hoisinhvienqnam.edu.vn

Xu Hướng 9/2023 # Tables And Other Formatting Controls # Top 18 Xem Nhiều

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In this lesson, we’re going to delve into tables, which are a huge part of laying out well formatted documents. After we discuss tables, we’ll cover some other controls that will help round out your formatting prowess, including adding links, using symbols, creating math equations, and quite a bit more!

By now, you should be very well acquainted with getting your documents up to a level where you can adjust the tabbing and indenting, paragraph alignments, line spacing, and create quick, customized lists. If you need a refresher of what we’ve covered so far, you should check out Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 so you can bring yourself up to speed.


One of the most common formatting elements you will use in Microsoft Word are tables, so much so that it’s probably a surprise we aren’t covering them until now!

Here you see a grid that allows you to quickly spec out a table but you can also insert, draw, or pick from some predefined “Quick Tables”.


The fast way is to simply trace out the table you want using the provided grid. In the screenshot, you see we trace out a 6 x 5 table, which is previewed in the document.

With your table now placed into your document, you can set out about formatting it, which we’ll cover shortly.

Insert Table

Secondly, you can “Insert Table,” which means you just input the number of columns and rows and how you want the column to “AutoFit.” If you choose fixed column width, you can select “auto” or you can assign a size. Alternatively, you can AutoFit columns to fit the contents, or you can have the content AutoFit to the window.

Finally, if you intend to reproduce the table or you use that size frequently, you can have the “Insert Table” dialog remember those dimensions for new tables.

Draw Table

When you draw a table, the cursor is changed to a pencil and you can “draw” out the column and rows. In this way you can size the table to your liking.

Once you draw your first cell, you can then draw further cells, and create the table that is more based on how you want it to look than necessarily what it requires.

Convert Text to Table

Let’s imagine you have a bunch of text and numbers, and you realize that it would be easier to read if it were in neat columns and rows. Not to fear, text to table will allow you to quickly and easily convert all that data into a table that you can then format to your heart’s content.


So how does this work? Simply, when you want to convert a section of your document to a table, you select the section using your mouse pointer and then select “Convert Text to Table.” The resulting dialog box allows you to choose how many columns you want.

The number of rows will be automatically determined by line breaks, so for example, if you have a block of text divided with flour line breaks, your table will have four rows.

Columns are determined by commas, tabs, paragraph breaks, or another symbol you can manually assign.

Quick Tables

Quick tables are fairly easy to reason out. Let’s say you want to insert a quick calendar, matrix, or a tabular list. You can also create your own table and save it to the list for later, quick use. Simply select the table you want to save, and select “Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery.”

There’s not a whole lot to master here. Keep in mind, when you insert a quick table, you can then edit and format as you would any table that you created from scratch. And, on that note, let’s actually dive into all that formatting information we’ve been alluding to throughout this lesson.

Formatting Tables


You get a larger variety of tools at your disposal. Note also, you can delete a table easily this way:

Back to the Ribbon, on the far right side of the “Layout” tab, you’ll find some handy controls for controlling your “Alignment” and “Data.”


You can also “Sort” cell data, insert formulas, convert your table to plain text, and repeat header rows. The last option is useful if you have a table that spans multiple pages, you can designate “header rows,” which will persist as you scroll through the table. This is useful for keep track of what column is what in long tables.

The “Design” tab by contrast is all about how your table(s) appear.

At the bottom of this menu, you can modify your table’s style if the current selection of tables doesn’t suit you. When you make changes, they will be previewed so you can see them before you commit.

While formatting or modifying a table, if the built-in selections aren’t close to what you want, you may just want to start from scratch. In this case, you can you the “New Style” dialog, which will be allow you to build a new table style based on current table styles.

There’s little difference to this dialog and the modify dialog except that modifying is based off an existing table design.


In the end, formatting your tables is going to come down to what kind of data you’re presenting and personal preference. We suggest that if you want to fully master tables, you create a blank document and mess around to your heart’s content. We are certain you’ll be creating and formatting eye-catching data-sets in less than it takes to say “columns and rows!”

Note, if you want to learn more about Excel formulas and functions, check out our How-to Geek School series on Excel Formulas and Functions!

Other Formatting Controls

On the right half of the Insert tab are some further formatting controls you should be aware of. Some of these may be of limited daily value to you, but we think it’s important to know about them in case you ever have need for them.



It doesn’t have to be an Internet URL either, it can simply refer to a location on your computer or another location in your document. Mostly though, you will probably want to refer to an Internet location, such as the best place on earth to get your geek fix!

Header, Footer, and Page Number

Headers and footers are useful for repeating the same piece of information at the top and/or bottom of each page, such as if you want to have the title of your book at the top of each page, or similarly, page numbers.

When you choose a style, the header or footer will open and the Ribbon will change to present you with special formatting options.


So you can type in your header or footer, and then decide where you want to position it, whether it’s the same across each page, and so on.

In the same vein, when you add page numbers, you can place it anywhere within a header or footer, picking from a pre-defined list of numbering styles.

If you want to “Format Page Numbers,” you’ll be presented with dialog box, which will allow you to change the number format, add chapter numbers, and dictate from where it starts.

Overall, the header and footer controls are quite easy to grasp and master. So, if you have an instructor who’s a bit old-fashioned and demands you include them in your paper, or you want the title of your book, or your name on every page, or simple page numbers – you should have no problem adding and manipulating them.


We’re not going to spend a great deal of time explaining the “Equation” functions in Word 2013. We’re guessing the vast majority of people using Word, will never have occasion to insert an equation into their documents.

That said, let’s explain the function exists in the first place. In Word, you can write a simple like “A=πr2” because you can insert the symbol for pi and then use superscript font to show radius squared.


However, if you want to write out anything more complicated than that, you’ll need to insert it using the “Equation” function. You can either select a pre-built equation from the dropdown list:

Note, the Ribbon immediately changes when you insert an equation to the “Equation Tools,” which offers a wide array of math symbols and operators, so you don’t have to try to figure out how to do it on your own.

So, if you’re a bit of a math geek or you’re taking a class and need to write a paper on a mathematical theory, you can present it ϥώwith all the necessary equations to show your work.


Symbols are characters that aren’t immediately found on your everyday, run-of-the-mill keyboard. For things like the copyright symbol and British Pounds, you need to insert the symbol using the “Symbols” function on the “Insert” tab.


For example, if you want to write “façade” and using the cedilla (ç), you’d pick it from the “Latin” subset. Similarly, something like café with its acute accent, can be added using the “Symbol” dialog box.

Note that you can also insert foreign letters using shortcut keys. You can see which shortcut key is used for each symbol at the bottom of the “Symbol” dialog box.

Note, that in the above instance, you’re not going to type “CTRL + ‘ + , + E” rather it’s “CTRL + ‘ + E.” The comma is simply there to tell you must first hold down the “CTRL” button, then press the apostrophe and “e” to insert an “é” in your document. Similarly, hold down “CTRL” plus comma and “c” to insert a “ç” and so on.

Coming up Next…

And so ends Lesson 3. We hope you enjoyed it and learned a thing or two. Knowing how to lay out tables in Word will give you a great deal of control over how you present data. Rather than simply having information in sentences or making lists, you can arrange it in neat rows and tables complete with customized colors and borders. The only limit is your creativity!

Moreover, if you’re going for a more published look and feel to your document, adding headers, footer, and page numbers is a great skill to have. Meanwhile, placing links in your documents will help readers navigate and read up on things you might otherwise have to explain with footnotes and such.


Tomorrow, in Lesson 4, we will dive into adding illustrations (such as pictures and shapes) to your documents, allowing you to create eye-popping layouts with tons of variety. You can even embed video for a true multimedia experience. We’ll end with how to add and use multiple languages, so you don’t want to miss out!

How To Format Microsoft Word Tables Using Table Styles

Apply and Modify Table Styles in Word Documents

Applies to: Microsoft ® Word ® 2013, 2023, 2023 or 365 (Windows)

You can apply table styles to your Word tables to format them quickly and consistently. Word is shipped with several built-in table styles or you can create your own. You can edit table styles by modifying borders, shading, character formatting, paragraph formatting and table properties. If your document includes multiple tables, table styles can save a lot of time.

Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For Word 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Table Tools Design tab may appear as Table Design.

Recommended article: How to Keep a Microsoft Word Table Together on One Page

Table styles and themes

Every Word document uses a document theme which includes a font theme and color theme. The colors used in table styles are based on the color theme.

You can select document themes, color themes and font themes using the Themes, Colors or Fonts drop-down menus on the Design tab in the Ribbon:

Turning gridlines on

When you are working with tables, it’s a good idea to turn gridlines on. Borders, which are a format, will print. Gridlines do not print.

To turn on gridlines:

If your Word document contains multiple tables that you want to format in a consistent way, it’s best to use table styles rather than applying manual or direct formatting to each table.

To apply a table style to a table:

Hover over the various table styles. The table formatting will change as you move over different table styles in the gallery.

Below is the Table Styles gallery (the current theme is the Office theme):

Selecting Table Style Options

Once you have selected a table style, you can select different Table Style Options (which are affected by the formats in the table style).

To select Table Style Options:

In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Header Row. If this option is checked, the header row will be formatted differently from the body rows.

In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Total Row. If this option is checked, the last row will be formatted differently from the body rows.

In Table Style Options, check or uncheck Banded Rows or Banded Columns for alternate row or column shading.

In Table Style Options, check First Column or Last Column if you want the first or last column formatted differently from the other columns.

You can modify a table style in a Word document and all tables using that table style will change.

To modify a table style:

From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the element that you want to modify (such as Header row).

Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.

From the Apply Formatting to drop-down menu, select the next element that you want to modify.

Select the desired formatting such as font, font size, font color, fill and border.

Repeat for other elements.

Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template. If you select Only in this document, the modified style will only be available for the current document. If you select New documents based on this template, then the table style will be modified for future documents based on the current template (usually the Normal template).

Below is the Modify Style dialog box:

You can also modify Table Properties in a table style. Table properties include table alignment, row settings and cell margins.

To modify Table Properties in a table style:

Select any other formatting options you want to apply to the entire table.

Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.

Below is the Table Properties dialog box with the Table tab selected:

You can also create a new or custom table style.

To create a custom table style:

Enter a name for the new table in the Name box.

Select the desired formatting.

Select Only in this document or New documents based on this template.

New Table Style appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:

Clearing a table style

To clear a table style and remove formatting:

Clear appears at the bottom of the Table Styles gallery:

You can also set a default table style for new tables in the current document or all new documents.

To set a default table style:

Select This document only or All documents based on the chúng tôi template (the default template in Word is the Normal template).

If you are working with documents with multiple tables, formatting with table styles can ensure that your tables are formatted consistently and save a lot of time.

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More resources

10 Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts for Selecting in Tables Microsoft Word Tricks to Keep Text Together (Words, Lines or Paragraphs) 14 Shortcuts to Quickly Select Text in Microsoft Word

Related courses

Using Tables For Organizing And Formatting In Microsoft Word

Tables of Contents and Tables of Authorities (Figures, etc.) are

What You Will Learn

not covered in this chapter (

Additional Written and Web Resources

This chapter last edited by Charles Kenyon on Friday 01 January 2023

Some less common ways to insert a table include:

Method 1: The Insert Table button (on the Insert Tab in Word 2007+; on the Table Menu in Word 97-2003) Method 2: The Insert Table dialog

These methods are discussed further throughout the rest of this chapter. Help on each method to inserting a table into a document can be found in Help files in Word.

Method 5: Insert a Table Using on of the Quick Tables (Ribbon Version)

See the Quick Tables section below.

To insert or delete rows and columns, select what you want to affect-rows to affect rows, columns to affect columns-and then select the appropriate option from the Table menu (rows or columns).

Word 2000 and later has the ability to “nest” tables within another table. Nested tables are particularly useful when you use a table to lay out a page and then want to use a table to present other information such as quarterly earnings as a table within the table. To create a nested table:

Position the pencil in the cell where you want the nested table (or a table inside another table).

Draw the new table. To define the table boundaries, draw a rectangle.

Marking Header Row(s) – Table Rows that repeat after a page break – CK Addition Word 2003-2023

Tables often have header rows that describe what is in the columns underneath. When a table breaks across a page it is useful to have these header rows repeat. Documentation and tooltips talk about “the first” row, but multiple contiguous rows can be marked as the table header.

They do need to be the first row(s) in the table, though.

Word 2003-2023 Creating a Caption for a Table – CK Note

A “caption” is a label that appears with a Table. It can be sequentially numbered and automatically inserted with each Table if you wish.

Insertion of captions is covered in the chapter on Complex Documents.

If you need the caption to repeat you would need to put a cross-reference to it in the first row of the table and set that as a repeating table header row. That row need not have top or side borders. Multiple rows can be designated as header rows. Once you insert a caption, it can appear in a Table of Tables.

Legal Q&A on Tables Labels in Microsoft Word

Paul notes that some tables can only be recovered using the first method.

Resize all cells in a table to be the same.

Here is a link to a different version (Jay Freedman’s) that changes the entire table rather than going cell-by-cell. If you haven’t worked with vba directly before, you may want to read:

Installing Macros by Graham Mayor.

It is far easier to manipulate tables if you are viewing the table gridlines. It is important to realize that Word uses the term “gridlines” for two very distinct features. The first is a graphics layout gridline applied to an entire page. You do not want to be using that feature for tables!

To view gridlines for tables in Word 97-2003 you would select “Show Gridlines” under the Table menu. (The toggle command is “Hide Gridlines.”)

Notice that what appear to be single, wrapped sentences in the view without the gridlines showing are really in separate cells. These would be treated by Word as being separate paragraphs as well.

Here is a short macro I developed in response to a request. (The macro recorder does not record much of table manipulation.) The measurements are in inches.

Labels in Microsoft Word are Tables, usually set up using the Labels button on the Mailings Tab (Word 2007 and later) or the Envelope and Labels wizard or the Mailmerge wizard (Word 2004 and earlier). Once the labels are set up, you can manipulate the them using any of the techniques given here for tables.

In the screenshot above, you can see the table layout with blank spacing cells that will not print on the labels. Display of gridlines is especially helpful with labels. You can also use the Table Layout tab’s tools to align text in your labels.

See Graham Mayor’s Insert logos /graphics on business cards and mailing labels for step-by-step instructions on inserting graphics on tables for labels and business cards.

See Create and Print Labels on Microsoft Support.

The Label tools create a slightly different document than you would get just adding an equivalent table to a Word document according to MVP Jay Freedman. “For one thing, it overrides the minimum margin settings that come from the printer driver and it ignores the usual header and footer heights.”

Any text in the chúng tôi template including headers or footers will interfere with proper creation of labels.

See also: Troubleshooting

See also: Table Causes Document File Size to Increase (Word 2000 +)

Tables can become corrupted.

Ideas (from Paul Edstein) to fix a corrupted table:

Part of the text is hidden inside a table cell… Can I insert an Excel worksheet into Word? Menu Versions Word 2000-2004 Ribbon Versions – Office 2007 and later

In the top box labeled “Formula” you’ll see an equal sign. Type the word “SUM”, then an open parenthesis “(” and choose “Table1Total” from the Paste Bookmark drop-down list.

Type a comma after “Table1Total” then go to the Paste Bookmark drop-down list and choose “Table2Total”.

Type a close parenthesis after “Table2Total” in the Formula box. Your formula should look like this:


I never could understand sorting in Word tables. Is it possible to sort dates and numbers as well as text? Practice: Sorting Dates in Tables

In a table, enter an array of dates that are near each other but have varying formats, like the following:

How can I make a pleading caption in Word?

There are a couple of different methods you can use to create a pleading caption in Word, but tables are one of the best ways to do this.

Practice: Make a “Scalloped” Caption Using Tables

Perform steps 1 through 5 in the “Insert a Table with Draw Table tool” in the preceding exercise.

If you have a lengthy caption (you’ve probably seen some that go on for pages), you may have noticed that the scallops don’t automatically copy down the center column of the table. If you don’t find this acceptable, consider another way to make a caption where you use a border line separating the parties from the pleading title. Many courts now accept captions prepared this way-check your court rules to see if you can use this type of caption.

See also the example pleading caption (above) using Tables.

Practice: Make a “Bordered” Caption Using Tables

In a blank document, create a table with two columns and only one row.

Fix the bottom left border as described in step 2 in the “Make a “Scalloped” Caption Using Tables” example that preceded this exercise. While you’re in the Borders and Shading dialog, turn on the printing border for the right side of the leftmost cell as well.

In this type of caption, the border automatically extends as you add cross-complainants or type a long pleading title.

How can I get the first row to repeat at the top of each page throughout the table?

In lengthy tables such as file or pleading indices, holdings lists, and other legal documents, if a table spills onto subsequent pages you can make headings repeat at the top of each new page that contains a part of the table.

Practice: Create Table Headings

In a blank document, from the Table menu, choose Insert Table (Insert, then Table in Word 2000).

Create a table with two columns and 250 rows.

In the first cell of the first column, type Attorney.

In the second cell of the first column, type Extension.

Select the first row of your table, and then from the Table menu, choose Headings (it’s called Heading Rows Repeat in Word 2000).

Go to Print Preview and view your handiwork.

Word also allows you to have more than one row repeat at the top of the page. Just select the rows that you want to repeat and perform step 5 above.

How to have the word “Continued” in the header row of multipage tables on continuation pages but not on the first page. (CK Note)

Put the word “continued” in the heading line on the first page. Then create a textbox or autoshape anchored outside the heading row and use it to cover the word. The shape or text box should have no border and white fill. This way, the word continued will not appear on the first page but will appear when the row (without the textbox or shape) is repeated on subsquent pages.

An alternative strategy would be to put the word continued in the original row anchor an occluding shape in a non-header row to block the word on the continuation pages.

Both methods are less than ideal, both work. Here is an example of using a textbox anchored in the table but outside the header row.

The Text Box is shown as semi-transparent for this demonstration it would be opaque in use. It can be anchored anywhere outside the header row, including outside the table itself.

Note that any manipulation of the textbox is likely to move the anchor into the first row. You need to have the anchors displayed and correct for this by moving the anchor.

Here is what the continuation page looks like:

A variation of putting an occluding shape (or frame) in the page Header is used when a page number is needed in the table itself. This takes more fiddling than having the occluding box on the first page because alignment is tricky.

A page number in a Header Row will repeat the number from the first page. A page number field in a shape or TextBox in a Header/Footer will reflect the pagination used by Word in headers and footers.

Here is what the continuation header (Section set to have a different-first-page header) looks like from the edit Header screen.

The screenshot below is from the Print Preview screen. (In print view, the Page 2 would appear faded because it is part of the page header; in draft or normal view, it would not appear at all.

It’s possible to have it either way in Word-you can have your cells break over a page or not, depending on your preferences for the job at hand. By default, the text in a table breaks across a soft page break in both Word 97 and Word 2000. Let’s explore the options in the following exercise.

Practice: Prevent Cells from Breaking Over a Soft Page Break

In a blank document, from the Table menu, choose Insert Table (Insert, then Table in Word 2000).

Create a table with 2 columns and 250 rows.

Make sure you’re in Page Layout view (Print Layout view in Word 2000).

Go to the bottom of the first page and type in one of the cells until you see text both above and below the Soft Page Break.

Make sure your cursor is anywhere in the table, and then from the Table menu, choose Cell Height and Width (Table Properties in Word 2000).

In the Cell Height and Width dialog box, find the check box Allow row to break across pages.

If the option is checked, the text can break over a page. If not, the row that contains the cell that broke over a page is moved to the next page in its entirety.

This does not prevent cells from breaking over hard page breaks. Also, if you have more than a page of text in a cell, a soft page break must exist somewhere in that text, and the text breaks over a page even though you’ve cleared the checkbox in step 6.

Is there an easy way to make a file index in Word? I had a macro in WordPerfect and now I’ve got to make them from scratch.

The bad news is that you do have to make it all over again; the good news is that you’ll only have to create it once. Using the power of tables together with AutoText, you’ll be able to make a killer file index that you can use repeatedly.

Practice: Create a File Index Using Tables

Open a blank document, and from the Table menu, choose Insert Table (Insert, then Table in Word 2000).

Create a table with as many columns as you need (we’ll use 4 in this example) and 2 rows.

In the first cell of the first column, type “Number”.

In the first cell of the second column, type “Document Name”.

In the first cell of the third column, type “Date Filed”.

In the first cell of the fourth column type “Description”.

This will give you a numbered column down the left side.

My table column resizes as I type… I am doing very simple math in my Word table. Is it possible to create subtotals? Practice: Work with Subtotals in a Word Document

In a blank document, create three separate tables with values in the first two cells of the first two tables.

Select the first sum field (it should say “1500” if you’ve used the example above), making sure not to select the end-of-cell marker after it (it kind of looks like a spider).

After selecting the first sum field in step 3, go to the Insert menu and choose Bookmark. For keyboard users, CTRL+SHIFT+F5 gets you to the Bookmark dialog box.

Repeat steps 3-5 for the second total (“450” if you’re following the example above), calling it “Table2Total”.

Creating a Table of Tables (or Figures or Equations)

Often a table of the tables in a document is desired (similar to a Table of Contents). This can be done relatively easily in Word. Insertion of such tables in covered in the chapter on Complex Documents.

It is possible to have a table act like a graphic and have text wrap around it. This is done through the Table Properties and the Positioning Button. Here are two screenshots showing the controls in Word 2003 and Word 2010. (Controls are identical.) The Word 2010 screen shot shows positioning relative to the bottom page margin.

The default settings are for no text wrapping and the Table is simply inserted at the insertion point in the document. The Word 2003 screen shot has the default settings for the Table Positioning dialog. The table positioning button is not active on the Table Properties unless the text wrapping is set for “Around.”

I am unsure when this floating table ability was added to Word but suspect it came with Word 2002. It is not available in Word 97.

Note that repeating headers in tables do not work if the table is floating rather than in the document layer.

Here are some screenshots of floating tables set for text wrapping. They essentially act much like graphics in this mode.

One table set for wrapping with the tool to move it displayed (red circle)

Two tables, both set to wrap.

The same two tables with wrapping set, one nested inside the other.

Converting Tables to Text and Text to Tables

It is relatively easy to convert a table to a similar formal structure without a table.

In Word 2007 and later, the command for this is found on the right side of the Table Tools Layout tab.

In earlier (menu versions) of Word the commands are found under the Tables menu.

To convert a table to text, there must be a table and the insertion point must be inside the table. Using the choice will give a dialog box

The default choice is tabs which gives a traditional tabbed table rather than an Word table. It is certainly appropriate for many tables. If a table cell has text that would extend beyond the tab area, you can have something unworkable, or at least requiring more work.

Here is a brief table:

Converted to text using the Tabs setting it does not line up. Tabs settings for those paragraphs would need to be adjusted.

That was done in the following screenshot. However, in many tables this would not be practical and one of the other dividers would be needed.

Conversely, it is possible to convert text to a table. To do this, you need to select the text you want to convert.

This dialog lets you adjust the number of columns, but not rows. It lets you modify column width and pick the text separators. Note that you do not have to have everything precisely laid out for this to work.

In the following screenshot, a single word in a sentence is selected.

So long as you are not changing the number of columns, you get the same result as you would if you, instead, just inserted a table. The selected word(s) are inserted into a single column table and preceding and following words become their own paragraphs.

So long as the marker to separate text is not found in the selected text, it does not matter which marker is chosen.

Examples of Use of Tables

These are ad-hoc examples.

Fax Transmittal Coversheet Word 97 – still available as Fax (elegant)

(There is more about how the prompts and checkboxes in this work under MacroButton Fields.)

Pleading Caption Using Tables

These tables were set up originally using Word 97 with splitting and merging cells. Gridlines are shown but do not print. The formatting of individual cells is done using styles. (The names, addresses, and other case-specific details are inserted using Mail Merge.)

Using Tab Settings and Tabs Inside Tables

Word allows you to set your own tab stops and use different kinds of tabs. However, you have to use Ctrl+Tab to generate a tab inside a table; the Tab key, by itself, will simply move you to the next cell.

decimal tabs behave a bit differently inside tables than they do outside a table. If you have a decimal tab set and no other tab settings, your text will immediately align to that tab, without an actual tab character being inserted using Ctrl+Tab.

Use of a decimal tab is illustrated below. Note the Ruler at the top of each screenshot.

Table cell with no tabs set

Table cell with left tab set looks the same

Table cell with decimal tab set uses tab to align number to decimal

Add a “dot leader” using the tab setting dialog

And finally, what would happen without the left tab having been set first!


Select the row(s) at the top of the table that you want to repeat.

Pick Table Properties from the context menu

Check the box to “Repeat as header row at the top of each page”

Note this may work in earlier versions than 2003 but does not work in Word 97. I believe this feature was introduced with Word 2000 but do not know for sure.

Word 2007-2023 (Ribbon versions) can also use the ribbons

Select the Row(s) you want to repeat across page breaks.

On the right end of the Table Tools Layout Tab check the option to “Repeat Header Rows.”

Two variations on the Ribbon command to Repeat Header Rows

Note, that there is on the Design Tab also a checkbox for header row. This is a design choice for picking a table style and has nothing to do with repeating on the next page.

Final note, header rows do not work if you have a table set to have text wrap around it.

Using Cell Properties to Change the Appearance of Text in a Cell (Wrapping and Fit Text Options)

It is easy to miss these Options which have been available at least since Word 2003.

Wrap Text is checked by default and Fit text is unchecked by default.

The table shown below has the top two cells set to fit text. The font typeface and size is the same in all three cells.

The text in the top cell appears compressed. It is the same text as the first three sentences in the bottom cell.

Use Word’s Quick Tables and Add Your Own (Ribbon Versions of Word – CK Section) Word 2013-2023/365 lets you insert rows and columns using your mouse

Word 2013 added another on-screen control to allow insertion of rows or columns. It is a plus sign in a circle at the beginning of a row or top of a column.

The Tools for Working with Tables – Toolbars and Ribbon Tabs

You can manipulate tables using tools on the Tables and Borders Toolbar (Word 97-2003) or on the Table Tools Tab Ribbons (Word 2007-2023)

Tables and Borders Toolbar (long form above, compacted below)

Table Tools Design Ribbon (above) and Table Tools Layout Ribbon (below) – Word 2007 and later

These Table ribbons are context ribbons. They become visible and active when you are in a table and are hidden when you are not.

You can use any of the tools you normally would use to format text in tables. See Basic Formatting. Probably the best method, though, is to use Styles.

Text in selected cells can be aligned in any of nine directions using the alignment buttons on the Tables and Borders Toolbar or the Alignment group of the Table Layout Ribbon. This is a form of direct formatting.

Your author does not know much about Table Styles and they were introduced after the original chapter on Tables was written. You can see them in the Design Ribbon above; here is a screenshot from the Word 2010 Table Style Gallery.

You can get many of these same built-in styles using the Table AutoFormat command in Word 97-2003 (on the Tables menu).

Using either of these can allow you to make dramatic changes for better or worse to your table’s appearance. Remember, UnDo is your friend!

See Why I Don’t Use Custom Table Styles by Shauna Kelly

There are a number of operations you can do to selected parts of a table but first you have to select those parts!

In Word 2007 and later, on the far left side of the Table Layout Tab there is a Select button you can use to select the Table, a Cell, a Row, or a Column.

In Word 97-2003 there are Select commands under the Table Menu that allow this.

Once you have portions of a Table selected, you can apply formatting, copy, paste, and perform other operations on that portion. One of the key things you can do is to mark one or more rows as a “Header Row” for the table. This is something completely different from Headers and Footers for pages.

Keyboard Shortcuts – with selection point (cursor) in table

Alt+5 (on the numeric keypad) Selects the entire table.

Move the selection to the top or bottom of a row and use the following to select the column:

Shift+Alt+PgDn to select entire column from the top cell.

Shift+Alt+PgUp to select entire column from the bottom cell.

Using the Backspace and Delete Keys to Modify Tables

The Backspace and Delete keys act on selected text to delete the preceding character (Backspace) or delete the following character (Delete). When text is selected, both will delete the selected text.

However, in a Table when the table or cells are selected (rather than just text), they act differently.

When you have a table, rows, columns, or cells selected, the Delete key will empty whatever you have selected, leaving the table structure intact.

The backspace key will delete the structure as well.

Method 4: Import Data from Another Application

If you have already created data in a tabular format in another application, there is a good chance that all you need to do to create a table with that data in Word is copy and paste.

Practice: Create a Table from Another Application

Make sure Word is open. Open the file in the other application that contains your tabular data.

Select (if necessary) and copy the data from the source file.

Switch to Word.

Choose Paste from the Edit menu.

While these three methods are the most common for creating a table in Word, other methods are also available. They include:

Method 3: Draw a Table Practice: Insert a Table with the Draw Table tool

The Insert Table button is limited in how many cells it can display initially. When building a large or more complex table, you may find using the Table menu more useful. In Word 97, from the Table menu, choose Insert Table; in Word 2000-2003, from the Table menu, choose Insert, and then select Table. The Word 2000-2003 Insert Table dialog box is shown in the next figure.

The Insert Table dialog box in both Word 97 and Word 2000 allows up to 63 columns and 32,767 rows in a table, but Word 2000 lets you exercise more formatting choices and allows you to set defaults for subsequent visits to the dialog box.

Practice: Insert a Table with the Insert Table dialog

Make sure you’re on a blank line in your document.

In Word 97, from the Table menu choose Insert Table. In Word 2000, from the Table menu choose Insert, then select Table.

In the Number of columns box, type 100.

In the Number of columns box, type 4.

In the Number of rows box, type 100.

If you need more than 63 columns or 32767 rows, consider using Microsoft Excel or Access, depending on the task.

Tables Overview

Everything from pleading captions to file indices to stock certificate listings can be managed in tables. In this chapter, we cover the basics first-how to create, modify, and prepare your tables for the legal environment. Next we’ll look at some of the ways to make tables useful in your firm. You will also see a greater number of references to Word 2000 than in other chapters. This is because the Table feature in Word 2000 has been greatly enhanced to offer more functionality. The enhancements continued through Word 2023. You may prefer Table Basics (Ribbon) by Suzanne S. Barhill, MVP.

You can use tables to align numbers in columns, and then sort and perform calculations on them. You can also use tables to create interesting page layouts and arrange text and graphics.

“Like a hammer, the time-proven spacebar has been used countless times to perform chores for which it was never intended. Yes, a hammer can compel a screw to join two pieces of wood together, and a spacebar can be used to move text around so it looks like a table. However, just as a hammered screw makes for a shaky wooden table, a word processing table fashioned together with spaces is equally fragile. Add something to the table and it doesn’t hold together. Which table? Take your pick.” Microsoft Word 2010 Bible by Herb Tyson

There are many ways to create tables in Word. Some of the more commonly used methods include:

Word for Law Firms and Lawyers CK Note)

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:


Using nested tables will make your document incompatible with Word 97. A nested table is a table within a table. You can follow the directions given above pretty much in Word 97 and create a good result. That is, you can use the pencil to draw new cells within an existing cell. What you can’t do in Word 97 is create that second table outside of the first one and then copy or move it into the first table.

You can download samples of a nested table and a pseudo-nested table if you want to look at this more closely. One document is compatible with Word 97, the nested table sample can’t be properly opened in Word 97. (It will open, it is just that the table will be scrambled.)

Download Page


In Word 97, rows are inserted above the selected row(s), and columns to the left of a selected column(s). In Word 2000, you can define whether rows are inserted above or below the current row, and whether columns are inserted to the left or right of the current column.

The ribbon versions of Word added a gallery of sample tables called Quick Tables. These are Building Blocks.

Word 2007 and later come with nine built-in sample “quick” tables. Again, these are building blocks and come in the file Built-In Building chúng tôi in Word 2010 and later (Building chúng tôi in Word 2007).

Unlike table styles, these are actual tables. The user can add their own table to the Table or Custom Table Quick Parts Gallery and have them show up in this menu.

At the bottom of the Quick Tables dropdown you can see the command ” Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery. That command is active only if a table is currently selected when this drop-down is used.

You can reach the same Create New Building Block dialog by using the keyboard shortcut of Alt+F3. *

The Create New Building Block dialog gives you the opportunity to choose:

The name for your Quick Table. The tables will be listed in alphabetical order, within the category.

The Gallery to store it in. If you want it to show up under Quick Tables, you must save it in the Tables Gallery.

The Category. The tables appear in alphabetical order in their categories which also appear in alphabetical order. The default category is “General,” which will appear after “Built-In” in the list. The category shown above is “_My Quick Tables” which would appear before either.

The “Save in” Template to store the Quick Table. The dialog above shows Building Blocks,dotx which is the default. I recommend saving it in a different template if you want to share your quick table. See Where can Building Blocks be stored?

* If you use the keyboard shortcut of Alt+F3 to reach the “Create New Building Block” dialog, the default gallery will be AutoText and the default save-in location will be the normal template.

Sub ChangeCells() ' Resizes all cells in active document to one size (in inches) Dim oTable As Table, oCell As Cell For Each oTable In ActiveDocument.Tables For Each oCell In oTable.Range.Cells oCell.Width = InchesToPoints(2.3) oCell.Height = InchesToPoints(1.5) Next oCell Next oTable End Sub

This chapter from original Legal Users Guide to Microsoft Word 2002 – document in zip format

Original Chapter on Microsoft Website

views since 13 April 2004

Copyright 2000, Microsoft Corporation. Copyright 2000-2002, 2004-2006, 2010-2023 Charles Kyle Kenyon See information about copy permission.

Search Intermediate Users Guide to Microsoft Word Using Google My office page as a Madison, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Original Legal Users Guide to Microsoft Word 2002 – Documents in Zip Format

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How Do I… Create And Format Tables In Word 2007?

This article is also available as a TechRepublic download and as a TechRepublic gallery.

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.

Table styles

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).

Wrap up

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.

How Do I… Create And Format Tables In Word 2003?

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.

Formatting options

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.

Don’T Let It Get Out Of Control

Early in your career, there was an air of picking fights. Over the years, that’s mellowed out. Where did that come from, both the fighting and mellowing out?

The internet brings the ass out in all of us. When we first got started no one knew about us. When no one knows about you, a good way to get some exposure is to pick a fight and go against an entrenched player or brand or company. We didn’t like what was going on back when we launched 37signals in 1999. If you go to chúng tôi you can read our original site. It’s a fight against the insanity of the industry at the time, of these agencies trying to promise they could do everything for you. Everyone was showing off their work in the same way, and we said, “We’re not going to show any work. We’re just going to do something black and white, and we’re just going to share ideas.”

We’ve always tried to do that. When Basecamp came out, we were fighting against the sense that shit’s too hard. There’s no reason for things to be so hard and complicated and expensive. We push hard against that, and we’ve done that over the years. Rails is another take on programming; it doesn’t have to be so hard.

At a certain point, as a brand, as a company, you mature. You’re not the young punk anymore who’s screaming at everybody. The rebel is still very much in our blood and what we’re about. We’re actually going to begin shortly to get back into that mode against some things. That’ll be fun.

When you want an industry to be a better place and you just don’t like how it is, a good way to do it is to go, “I don’t like it for these reasons. We’re doing it this way. Come and join us,” and start a movement that way.

I don’t like negativity. I used to, but I want to make more reasonable points. Thoughtful arguments is what I’ve come to.

A great example would be your recent post about group chat and how it’s broken. That wasn’t coming out and saying, “Hey, Slack or whatever, you suck.” It was, “I think there’s a problem here, and we should fix it.”

That’s how I prefer to make points nowadays. Those are points that I like to read and absorb myself. I want more things to exist in the world that way. If I can have an impact, I’m going to write up things like that.

You can still take strong angles and positions and have unique points of view, but you don’t need to call out anyone specifically. “This is a problem, and here’s how we would solve it, and here’s what we think’s better and why it’s better,” and try to make a reasoned argument about it. Some people agree, and some people won’t. That’s fine, but I do think it’s important to have strong opinions and have a point of view that’s clear versus being nonchalant about everything. That doesn’t really make a name for yourself.

You’ve been dropping down on negativity online, and you’ve been developing yourself more as a CEO. How has that impacted Basecamp?

When I would see people internally be snarky about something … People tend to pile on when there’s a lot of snark. I started to say, “Hey, let’s not act that way. We don’t need to act that way. I understand your point of view, but let’s take another one.” I try to inject a little bit more of a thoughtful dialogue about things that people are arguing about or pointing out.

Someone will jump on a software quality issue that Apple has and I’ll be like, “I can point out 20 bugs in our own shit right now. We know how hard this is. This is a hard thing to do. Imagine being Apple, when you have a billion people using your stuff. This is hard. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s not that they’re not paying attention. It’s just hard. We should know that ourselves.”

How has that affected the culture?

Culture changes as you add new people and people leave. It’s an ever-changing thing-it’s not a monolithic thing. There are many different cultures inside of a company culture. Our support team has their own mini culture. Programmers have their own, and designers have their own.

We don’t rush. I think a lot of companies right now are rushing, and they’re full of anxiety. Part of that is because all of the tools people are using encourage that. It’s not a sustainable or healthy place. We want to be here for another 10, 20 years if we can. We want people to be calm, be thoughtful; to have a peaceful place to work, a peaceful place to think.

When you’re smaller, everyone has a better sense of what everyone’s talking about. When you’re a little bit bigger, people don’t know each other quite as well, and someone can say something that’s snarky, or whatever it is. It’s not always clear what they actually mean. You have to be a little bit more protective of that because clarity is just reduced at a certain level, once you have a certain size. We have 50 people now, which is still relatively small, but that’s a bigger challenge now.

Over the past year or so, there’s been some people who’ve been concerned about some of the things that some people have said, their little off-color remarks or whatever. In the past, it just wouldn’t have been a thing. You do watch yourself a little more, and you’re more measured. Fundamentally, I want the culture to be calm and not stressful.

A few years ago, you decided to spin off one of your products, Highrise. How has that gone?

I think that Highrise has really influenced us actually. They have a full team and they work their own way. I’m really not involved there at all, unless the team wants me to look at something. That doesn’t happen often, they’re really an autonomous company running on their own.

They have a nice cadence of releases. Every month, they have a whole handful of new stuff. We used to work in 3-month increments, and now we work in 6-week increments because of their month releases. That helped influence our development cycles.

It was an unintended consequence to have Highrise encourage us. We have a bigger team now, and whenever you have a bigger team, you start to work a little bit slower. That’s just the nature of humans. You don’t speed up. You slow down a little bit.

It was cool when they got started on Highrise. We saw them just improving the product rapidly in the first 2 or 3 months. “Whoa. How are they doing that? We used to do that. We used to be able to do that when we had 4 people working on the product.” Now, when you have 12 people working on the product, or 15, things slow down. That was a good reminder that small teams can make a lot of progress quickly.

Basecamp the product gets rebuilt from the ground up every four years. With the more mature culture, how was building Basecamp 2 compared to Basecamp 3?

We felt less guilty. Highrise was our second most popular product, it’s just a great business in itself, multi-million dollar business. We were neglecting it. We had Highrise just sitting around, getting worse relatively. Software doesn’t decay necessarily, but decays relatively. I felt really guilty about the fact that we had our name on that product and we weren’t improving it. It was unfair. It was wonderful to have a great team take it over.

It helped eliminate the guilt. Now, we knew it was getting the attention it deserved, that the customers wanted it to get, and now it’s a much better product for it. It feels a lot better now, knowing that it’s in good hands.

We knew that everyone in the company now could focus on this. Now, we can make the most ambitious version of Basecamp we’ve ever made. We can make a product that is totally unique in the market and build this better than we’ve ever built it before. We’re building Basecamp, and not building Basecamp and holding on to other things that aren’t working so well for us.

We do still do a couple other things. We have our job board. We Work Remotely, but that doesn’t take any effort to maintain, probably 10 hours a year. It’s actually quite a good business. We’ve got close to 100 job postings. Those are per 30 days. It’s $200 to post one, so you’re talking $20,000 a month or so of revenue that’s 98% profit. It can run itself. The ideal thing is to have these money machines running that don’t require a lot of upkeep, but also don’t fall behind.

A secondary product like Highrise is different. It’s a complicated product. A job board is very straight forward.

37signals, now Basecamp, been around for 17 years. You mentioned you want to be around for another 10 or 20 years. What’s that look like? How do you plan for it?

It can get sad and depressing if you think about it, like life. “Well, we’re all going to die. We’re probably going to get ill when we’re older and have some miserable years at the end.” Companies are no different. I don’t like to think that far ahead.

Right now, I know the next six weeks worth of work that we’re doing. Every six weeks, we start a new cycle of work. I know what that looks like. I’ve got an idea for the product vision in general, where we want to go with it, and that’s it. I feel like you have control over the next month or two.

I think you can spend a lot of energy worrying about something you can’t control, and then you end up worrying. “Oh my God. I’m worried this is going to happen to me, or that’s going to happen to me.” Who knows what’s going to happen to you? You’ve got what’s in front of you and what’s around you and who’s around you, and that’s it.

I feel like as far as you can see is enough. If we really want the company to be around 10, 20, 30 more years … I’ll be 70. I can’t run a software company at 70. You could, I suppose, but highly unlikely. It’s a young person’s game in a lot of ways.

David’s in his late 30s. I’m in my early 40s. Realistically, we’d have to have some sort of succession planning if we could survive that long and wanted to stay in business that long. But I’m not really worried about that right now.

Not worrying about the future-is that something you’ve had since the beginning, or is that a thing that has come with the privilege of making it as opposed to, “Oh, we’re barely making payroll this month. Hooray!”

I’ve always been very short-term focused. I was at this invite-only conference this last week called Owner Camp-a three day summit of small business owners. 30 different owners are there and we were all talking about our businesses and things we’re struggling with, things that are going well. We were going around the room, and I was hearing a lot of people talk about things that seemed extremely complicated to me, the way they sell and the way they charge. How they’re tracking time extensively, long-term planning, all this stuff.

I’m sitting there thinking, “I’m either an idiot or I’m really smart.” To be honest, I don’t actually know which it is but I’ve always kept the business very simple.

I got out of college in ’96. I came back to Chicago and started working on my own. I would just look at my expenses and go, “I need to cover those.” My rent was $900 a month, and I had a car payment of $150. I needed to make a $1,000 just to cover my basics, and then I’d like to make a few more bucks. I would do that. That was it.

It wasn’t about tracking time and, “Was that profitable on this project or not?” I’ve never cared about that stuff. It’s more of the big picture in terms of, “How much are my expenses, and what do I need to cover over the year.” I feel like a lot of people are tracking a lot of things that just don’t matter. This is my perspective and maybe I’m just completely ignorant, but it’s served me well for 20 years. Just keep things as simple as you can, in terms of how you manage things. Don’t let things get out of control.

I think that’s the biggest thing: don’t let things get out of control. Make sure you can wrap your whole head around your business at all times, and if you can’t, then don’t go there yet.

In 2002, I didn’t know we’d make something called Basecamp in 2004 that would change a lot of things for me and for the industry. In 2004, when we were building Basecamp, we didn’t know that this thing called Rails would come out of it that would change the industry in a lot of ways. Who knew any of this stuff? I haven’t worried too much about the things beyond what I know I can deal with.

When I do, I just feel like I start to worry. When I do think longer-term, I just start to get worried because your mind just start to make things up. Mine does at least. I think most people’s do. It tends to think about bad things that can go wrong.

It’ll go to worst case instead of, “Oh, I’m probably still going to be in business,” as opposed to, “How could our business die?”

There are so many things that could kill us. Maybe something will. I learned something from my cofounder David. David’s big into Stoicism, which is a philosophy. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that a big part of it is the idea of negative visualization, which is something David’s really into. He taught me a little bit about it: in any situation you’re in, just figure out what the worst thing that could happen is right now, and come to terms with it. Let’s say the business was to die in 5 years. Who knows why, but it died. It would be bad. People would lose their jobs.

Let’s call that a 20-year run. That’s not so bad. We would have had a chance to work on some amazing things. We would have changed the industry in a few ways perhaps. A lot of other companies to flourish with Rails. Even smaller things, like if we took this risk, if we spent X amount of dollars on this idea and it didn’t pan out, we’re still going to eat lunch. Everything’s going to be okay.

We’re not putting ourselves at risk when we try this. We’re taking a risk, but there’s a difference between taking a risk and putting yourself at risk. We’ll all be fine. Everything will be fine.

It’s important, for indie founders especially, to remember: the easiest thing to do is to launch a product or make a product. The hardest part is maintaining it and staying in business and dealing with the fact that this thing is alive and you have to keep it alive.

Launching is not hard. Coming up with an idea is not hard. Making something is not hard. It’s everything that comes after that.

For example, over the course of 12 years, we’ve made 6 or 7 different products. Because of that, a few of them languished because it was easy to launch them, but then to maintain them and continue to improve them over time was hard. I think founders and people who are interested in making stuff, they actually will fall back to, “I want to make something new. I want to make another thing, and another thing, and another thing.”

I love that drive in people, but that’s the easy part. I think it’s easy to get overextended and stretched too thin as you fall back to your standard pattern of “Let’s make the next thing now.” Everything gets harder when you have 2 things in the air, and then 3 things in the air, and 4 things in the air. I had to learn this lesson a few different times.

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