Word: Show table grid linesMay 3, 2010
Table grid lines are NOT table borders. Borders display all the time in your document; borders show in print preview; and borders print. Table grid lines are guidelines for borderless tables or table cells. And you should turn them on when you’re working in Word.
Why? Because if you don’t, you may assume you’re working just in text, not in a table cell. Why is it important to know that? Well, if you decide to add more content, you may not add it in the correct place and so may mess up the table or the table sort order (if you use it).
Here’s a simple example. The first screen shot below shows a document without table grid lines and without the paragraph marks turned on. You can’t tell just by looking at it that this content is contained within a table.
The second screen shot shows the grid lines and paragraph marks turned on. Notice how it is obvious that the content has been placed in individual table cells.
By showing the table grid lines, the author can make informed decisions about how to deal with the next piece of content they have to deal with. In the example above, they know they have to insert a new row to add a new reference to the list. Without table grid lines turned on, an author might just press Enter at the end of one reference and add the next one to the same table cell — this can cause problems when sorting a list alphabetically.
If you are using borderless tables in your document, do yourself a favor and turn on the grid lines:
- Word 2003: On the menu, go to Table > Show Gridlines.
- Word 2007/2010: Click inside any table, then go to the Table Tools > Layout tab, Table group and click View Gridlines.
(Please note: This article is not an argument for or against using tables for layout — the fact is, my client uses them for their Terms and References lists.)
Update February 2013:
The show gridline setting is associated with the computer, not the document, as far as I know.
The only way to guarantee that it’s turned on is to have it as part of an autorun/autoopen macro associated with the document’s template, or with the specific document.
See these blog posts for how to do that: