Word: Pasting a row into a table doesn’t keep the column widths

October 21, 2010


You have a Word table with several rows. You cut a row from the table and paste it into another position within the same table. The column widths don’t ‘honor’ the widths of the original row.

You figure out you can get around it by any of these methods:

  • split the table, resize the column widths, then join the table back together again
  • convert the table to text, then convert it back to a table again
  • drag the columns to lock them into the previously established positions
  • insert a blank row into the main table, then copy/paste the content from the cut row into the table cells.

But all of these solutions are painfully tedious and time-consuming. You should ask my husband just how painful — he had this problem and I heard him complain long and loud in frustration (he works with Word tables ALL the time)!


Check your Smart Cut and Paste settings and make sure the Adjust table formatting and alignment on paste check box is selected.

  1. Check the Smart cut and paste settings:
    • Word 2003: On the menu, go to Tools > Options. Click the Edit tab.
    • Word 2007: Click the Office button, then Word Options. Click Advanced in the left panel and scroll down to the Cut, copy and paste section.
  2. Make sure the Smart cut and paste check box is selected.
  3. Click the Settings button next to that check box.
  4. Make sure the Adjust table formatting and alignment on paste check box.
  5. Click OK to exit both windows.

Word 2003 window; the Word 2007 selections are the same, but the window is different


  1. I have Word 2010. The box in Settings was already checked and it still doesn’t work. I am copying from a large table of food properties (calories, fat, etc.) to a smaller table of daily food intake to keep track of calories, etc. The tables have the same exact format. When a new row is copied from the large table and pasted into the smaller table, the columns for that row are offset. The problem is that if the columns aren’t aligned exactly, the Sum Function won’t work properly. It is too much work and not always possible to align the width of each cell for these rows by hand.

  2. Hi Linda

    Are the tables you’re copying AND pasting into set to autofit the window? If not, try that for both the source and destination tables, then copy in the rows and see if that makes any difference. You can always take off the autofit setting later if you don’t want it.

    One other trick I learned the other day from here (#8): http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/10-tips-for-working-with-word-tables/3594 is to move rows using Shift+Alt+(up or down) arrow key. This works for single or multiple rows. It *might* be of use.

    Otherwise, I’m out of ideas.


  3. THANK YOU. Very helpful!

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