Word: Table cells won’t align

July 13, 2022

A client had an issue with a Word table—the cells, columns, and rows wouldn’t align no matter what she did. I’ve encountered similar situations many times (possibly because track changes is on when people add/remove table rows or cells, or they try do things with merged table cells without realising that they are merged, or they try to join one table to another). Invariably my ‘go to’ method (after spending a few minutes and getting nowhere) is to start a new table from scratch and copy/paste the cell information into it. Tedious for sure, but sometimes it’s the only way to salvage your sanity—and the table!

However, a few weeks ago I read about another trick to get table cells to align (the first method listed here: https://wordribbon.tips.net/T009924_Adjusting_Column_Widths_on_Joined_Tables.html), so I thought I’d try that on the client’s table as a first step, and it worked beautifully!

Here’s what her table looked like—I’ve blurred the content, and added arrows pointing to where things went wrong. In addition to the columns not aligning, the row ends didn’t align, and some parts of the table were missing borders.

Here’s how I aligned it in just a couple of seconds (Word 365 for Windows):

  1. Select the whole table.
  2. Go to the Layout tab (the one to the right of the Table Design tab—NOT the one for page layout).
  3. Go to the Cell Size group.
  4. In the Cell Size group, put a small value in the Width field (I used 0.2 cm). This gives you a narrow table.
  5. Click the drop-down arrow for AutoFit, then choose AutoFit Window. Your table columns and rows should now be aligned and you can now adjust them, as necessary.

NOTE: I’ve since had further issues, and this trick didn’t work for them all. The tables it didn’t work on all had some merged cells, so I split cells to get them back to the same number of columns as the main table, and then this trick worked. If you still need to keep those cells merged, then make sure no further changes will be done to the table and remerge as necessary (or use no borders for the cell dividers if you don’t want to remerge).

[Link last checked July 2022]


  1. Wonderful – thanks!

  2. Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for this.

    Alexandra Peace
    Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI), Co-President
    Editors Canada, member
    Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), professional member
    American Society for Indexing (ASI), member
    Chang School/Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson), indexing course instructor

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