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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Typed a list in Word and can't get it to line up?

Transform tedious lists attractively with a few mouse clicks using Word 2003

Open a blank Word document and type in a list of some description – it doesn’t matter what kind of list it is, but each entry should have at least two elements in it, such as the club membership fees shown here. Separate the items with a dash (‘–’) or a Tab to open a gap between each one, as shown in the example below. As you can see, the result doesn't look very good and is hard to read. Let’s sort that out by highlighting the list and the heading, clicking the Table menu, choosing Convert and then Text to Table.

When the dialogue box opens, increase the number of columns – here it’s two – and then tell Word at what point each line should be divided into columns. It’s possible to use paragraph breaks, commas and tabs, or specify a particular character by typing it into the box. We’ve used the Tab key, so we’ll select that. To make the table look nice, click the AutoFormat button and choose a design from the list. If necessary, remove any special formats and then click OK twice to continue.

It may be necessary to fiddle slightly with the resulting table to make it look nice. For example, highlight the top line, open the Table menu and choose Merge Cells to change the top row from two columns to one. You could also use any of Word’s Table commands to change the background of rows and columns or the formatting of the text inside them. Alternatively, you could change your mind, highlight the whole thing, open the Table menu, then choose Convert and Table to Text to transform the table back into text!

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