Word: Why can some actions be repeated but not others?

February 11, 2011

One of my favorite time-saving functions of Word is the ‘repeat last action‘ function (Ctrl+Y or F4). It makes it really easy to do something like set Auto Fit to Window for a table, then go to the next table (using the Object Browser) and reapply the same setting to that table.

However, the F4 function only works for some table properties in Word, not all. For example, you can set and repeat table border properties, or cell background colors, or header row repeat, or the auto fit I mentioned earlier. But you can’t set the row height for a row in a table, then apply that same setting to other rows you select in either that or another table.

Does anyone know why it works for some things, but not others?

Oh, and I’ve tried setting a row height and repeating that setting — to no avail — in Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010. It doesn’t work in any of them.

Update April 2011: Aha! I found a way for F4 to repeat a row height setting! It’s a bit obscure, but it works. You either have to add Table Row Height to the Quick Access Toolbar (once it’s there, use the QAT icon to change the row height, then press F4 for the next table row you want to change), or use the Height box on the Table Tools > Layout tab to change the height, then press Enter, then select other table rows and press F4. Word now ‘remembers’ that last action.

[Links last checked April 2011]

One comment

  1. I’ve always considered Word’s Row Height setting function to be unreliable, so I create table styles with specific Format>Paragraph spacing above and below the text, and use that to define the rows. I set the Row Height in the Table Properties to Auto, and the paragraph spacing of the Table Text style keeps the spacing neat and accommodates cells with wrapped text. If a table wraps only one or two rows to the next page, I reduce the spacing from 6pt above and below to 5pt or 4pt to pull all the rows together, without making the table look funky. If you have two small tables on the same page, they look better with the same spacing, but a long table on a page by itself with slightly narrower rows than other tables in the document is not disconcerting to the reader.

    This doesn’t really answer the question you asked, does it? I hope it helps someone anyway.

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