Word: Set default table style

March 31, 2008

Do you usually create the same table layout in your Word documents? Did you know that you can set up your standard table once, then create an autotext entry for it so that you can insert your default table every time you need a new one?

Word 2003

These instructions are for Word 2002 and 2003; earlier versions of Word use similar commands.

  1. Create your standard table, applying the styles you want and adding any special effects such as borders, shading, header row, and so on.
  2. Select your table.
  3. From the menu, select Insert > AutoText > New. The Create AutoText window displays.
  4. Type a name for this entry that is easy for you to remember. Try to keep the name short so you don’t have to type much when you add your table. (For example, 52 for a 5 column, 2 row table.)
  5. Click OK.
  6. Whenever you need to insert this table, type the autotext name (e.g. 52) then press F3. Voila! Your standard table is added to your document.

Neat huh? You can set as many of these as you want. Just make sure you name each one uniquely.

If you forget the name, select Insert > AutoText from the menu. The name is listed in the drop-down menu list—select it. If it isn’t listed, select AutoText at the top of the drop-down menu list. The AutoCorrect window displays with the AutoText tab active. Select the autotext name from the list in the middle of the window, then click Insert.

Word 2007

Tables in Word 2007 seem to be more clever! You can choose one from the list of Quick Tables, then use the Table Styles command group to apply a styled theme to it.

However, if you want to create your own and add it to the list of Quick Tables, here’s how:

  1. Create your standard table, applying the styles you want and adding any special effects such as borders, shading, header row, and so on. Don’t add any text, unless you want every table to have it!
  2. Select your table.
  3. Open the Insert tab, then click the Table button.
  4. Click Quick Tables, then click Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery.
  5. Complete the information on the Create New Building Block window, making sure that the Gallery is set to Tables, and the Options value is set to Insert content in its own paragraph. Click OK.
  6. Your specially-designed table is now available whenever you display the thumbnails of the Quick Tables.

[This article was first published in the March 2004 CyberText newsletter; steps for Word 2007 added 21 August 2008]


  1. I’m using Word 2010 and have a problem with the formatting in a table. I create a table, change the format so that it doesn’t not-put-a-space after automatically numbered lists and continues putting 0.6pts after each line. When I tab to create a new row in the same table, those format changes are discontinued. If I ‘Select All’ the table and make those changes, a new row added to the bottom will not continue with the same formatting. This is driving me nuts – please help!

  2. Hi Sue

    Take a look at some of these other blog posts of mine — something in them may help you:

    * https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/word-2007-tips-for-using-built-in-table-styles/

    * https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/word-2007-using-table-styles/

    * https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/word-macro-to-insert-a-formatted-table-and-an-automated-caption/

    If none of these help, try the Microsoft Answers forum for Word and see if someone there has an answer for you: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office (If you do get an answer, I’d appreciate it if you could share the link to it).


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