Text pours into a table in Word 2010 on a cell-by-cell basis. Each cell of a Word table can have its own paragraph format and its own set of tabs. Groups of cells, rows, and columns, and the entire table, can be selected and formatted at one time, if you like. All the standard text and paragraph formats apply to cells in a table, just as they do to regular text.

Show the Ruler when you work with formatting a table — it's a boon. If the Ruler doesn't appear in your document, click the View Ruler button to call it forth.

Putting text into a Word table

To populate a table with text, simply type. All the text you type fits into a single cell. Cells grow taller to accommodate long bits of text. Certain keys and key combos perform special functions within the table:

  • Tab: To move to the next cell, press the Tab key. You move from cell to cell, from left to right. Pressing Tab in a table’s last (rightmost) column moves you down to the next row.

  • Shift+Tab: To move backward to the previous cell, press Shift+Tab.

  • Arrow keys: The up, down, left, and right keys also move you around within the table, but they still move within any text in a cell. Therefore, using the arrow keys to move from cell to cell is rather inefficient.

  • Enter: The Enter key adds a new paragraph to a cell.

  • Shift+Enter: The Shift+Enter key combination can break up long lines of text in a cell by inserting a soft return.

  • Ctrl+Tab: To use tabs or indentation within a cell, press Ctrl+Tab rather than Tab.

By the way, pressing the Tab key in the table's last, lower-right cell automatically adds another row to the table.

Selecting text in a Word table

Here's how you can select text in a table:

  • Triple-click the mouse in a cell to select all text in that cell.

  • Select a single cell by positioning the mouse in the cell's lower-left corner and, when the mouse pointer changes to a northeastward-pointing arrow, click to select the cell.

  • Move the mouse into the left margin and click to select a row of cells.

  • Move the mouse above a column and click to select that column. When the mouse is in the "sweet spot," the pointer changes to a downward-pointing arrow.

  • Selecting stuff in a table can also be accomplished from the Table group on the Layout tab. Use the Select menu to select the entire table, a row, a column, or a single cell.

  • Clicking the table’s “handle” selects the entire table. The handle is visible whenever the mouse points at the table or when the insertion pointer is placed inside the table.