Ultimate Guide to Using Tables in Google Docs


Tables are good for showing data within a document. Facts and figures are displayed in a grid to illustrate what you are writing about in your document. This tutorial will teach you how to create and edit a table in Google Docs.

Before creating your table, you will need to know what data you are going to show in your document. You may be writing about tee-shirts by type, color, and price, or how many oak trees there are in a neighborhood by street and how many. The key is that the table is relevant to what you’re writing about.

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Let’s get started creating a table in Google Docs!

How to Add a Table in Google Docs

Enclosed below are the steps required to create a table in Google Docs:

  1. Open Google Docs to the document where you want to add your table
  2. Go to the menu item Insert, and from the drop-down menu, select table.
  3. Hover over how many squares (cells) you need for columns and rows.
  4. Click to select, and a blank table will automatically appear in the document.

Open Google Docs

A document in Google Docs
A document in Google Docs

Open up the document you want to add a table to in Google Docs.

In the Main Menu, Go to Insert -> Table

Go to Insert -> Table
Go to Insert -> Table

Next, in the main menu, go to Insert -> Table.

Select How Many Rows and Columns You Want for Table

Use Table Grid in Google Docs to select how many rows and columns you want for your table
Use Table Grid in Google Docs to select how many rows and columns you want for your table

Use Table Grid in Google Docs to select how many rows and columns you want for your table. To do this, simply drag your mouse cursor across the grid and click the mouse button once you have it set to your requirements. For our example, we chose a 4×4 table (4 rows and 4 columns).

a 4x4 table in Google Docs
a 4×4 table in Google Docs

Your table should now appear in your Google Doc as shown in the screenshot above.

Ever wanted to open or edit a PDF in Google Docs? Check our Our Guide to PDFs in Google Docs.

How to Enter Data in a Table in Google Docs

The next step is to actually enter data into your table. To enter data into a table in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Put your cursor in the first row (header row), and type the names of the data you want to show in your document.
  2. Click Tab to move from one cell to the next cell in a row.
  3. Add your data in the rows for each column.

Place Cursor in Cell You Want to Edit

Editing a cell in a table in Google Docs
Editing a cell in a table in Google Docs

Click on the cell you want to edit as shown in the screenshot above.

Add text to table cell in Google Docs
Add text to table cell in Google Docs

Type in some text and it will appear in the cell.

Click the Tab Button to Move to the Next Cell in the Row

Click Tab button to move to next cell in table in Google Docs
Click Tab button to move to next cell in table in Google Docs

To move to the next cell in the row, click the Tab button. To move to the cell underneath the current cell, click the down arrow button.

Tip: Clicking Tab at the last cell of the last column will add another row.
a populated table in Google Docs
a populated table in Google Docs

Now that you have data in your table, you may want to edit it as you develop your document.

Did you know that you can write equations inside Google Docs? Check out our tutorial on how to use the Google Docs Equation Editor.

How to Format Text Within Cells in Google Docs

Once you have a table populated, you will likely want to format the text. In this instance, we are making the header row text-centered and bold.

To format text inside cells in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Select the cells you want to format by clicking on the cell
    • If you want to format multiple cells at the same time hold down the Shift key and click on each cell
  2. Go to the formatting toolbar and select the formatting options you want to apply

Tip: You can get the same result by pressing Ctrl+B for Bold and Ctrl+Shift+E for Center align.

Select the Cells You Want to Format

Hold Down Shift and click on each cell you want to format

Hold down the shift key and click on each cell you want to format. If you only want to format a single cell, just click on it without holding down the shift key.

Select the Formatting Options from the Text Formatting Toolbar

Click on the formatting options in the text format toolbar to apply formatting the text in Google Docs
Click on the formatting options in the text format toolbar to apply formatting the text in Google Docs

Next, click on the formatting options you want to apply to your text in the formatting toolbar as shown in the screenshot above.

Bolded and centered text in a table in Google Docs
Bolded and centered text in a table in Google Docs

For our example, we decided to bold and center the text so we selected those options from the formatting toolbar. The text in the cells you selected should now be formatted as shown in the screenshot above.

How to Color Cells in a Table in Google Docs

You can also apply colors to table cells in Google Docs. In this instance, we are making the header row blue and the first column green.

To apply color to table cells in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Selects the cells you want to apply a new color to
  2. Go to the toolbar, click the ellipsis (three dots) at the end of the toolbar
  3. Click on the Background color paint bucket.
  4. Click on the color you want to apply to the selected cells

Select the Cells You Want to Apply a New Color To

Selecting all the cells in a row in Google Docs
Selecting all the cells in a row in Google Docs

Click on the cells you want to change the color for. As we mentioned earlier, to select multiple cells, hold down the shift key and click on each cell you want to change the color for.

Click on the Ellipsis (…) Button

Click the ellipsis button to bring up more formatting options in Google Docs
Click the ellipsis button to bring up more formatting options in Google Docs

Next, click on the ellipsis button (the three dots) as shown in the screenshot above.

Click on the Background Color Button (paint bucket)

Background Color Button in Google Docs
Background Color Button in Google Docs

Once you have clicked the ellipsis button, you should see a sub-menu as shown in the screenshot above. Click on the background color button (it is the button with a paint bucket on it).

Select the Color You Want from the Color Picker

Pick Color from Color Picker in Google Docs
Pick Color from Color Picker in Google Docs

You should now see the color picker as shown above. Click on the color you want for your cell(s) background. For our example, I chose blue.

Blue cells in Google Docs table
Blue cells in Google Docs table

Your cells should now be the color you chose. If you notice the screenshot above, the blue is dark and it is hard to read the text so let’s change the text color to white to make it easier to read.

The Text Color button in Google Docs
The Text Color button in Google Docs

Select the cells again and click on the Text color button as shown in the screenshot above.

Select white from color picker
Select white from color picker

Select white from the color options in the color picker as shown above.

White text in blue cells in Google Docs
White text in blue cells in Google Docs

Your cells should now have white text as shown in the screenshot above.

How to Change Cell Borders in Google Docs

Google Docs allows you to change the line type, thickness, and style of your cell and table borders. To change the border of a cell or cells of a table in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Select the cells you want to change the border for.
  2. In the toolbar, click the ellipsis (three dots at the end)
  3. Drop down the Border width choices, and select the width. The higher the “pt,” the thicker the line.
  4. To change the border type, click on the border dash button and select the style you want

Select the Cells You Want to Change the Border For

Select cells
Select cells

Select the cells you want to change the border for.

Click on the Ellipsis (…) button in the Toolbar

Click the Ellipsis button
Click the Ellipsis button

Next, click on the ellipsis (…) button in the formatting toolbar as shown in the screenshot above.

Click on the Border Width Button to Change the Width of the Border

Border width button in Google Docs
Border width button in Google Docs

Once you click the ellipsis button, you should see a submenu as shown in the screenshot above. Click on the Border Width button as shown above.

Select a weight for your border
Select a weight for your border

Choose the weight (thickness) you want your border to be from the preset options as shown in the screenshot above. The higher the number, the thicker the border.

Thicker border
Thicker border

As you can see, the border is now thicker than before. Now, let’s change the border for the rest of the cells.

Click the border dash button to change the border type in Google Docs
Click the border dash button to change the border type in Google Docs

Select the cells you want and click on the ellipsis button as you did before. Click on the border dash button.

Border line options in Google Docs
Border line options in Google Docs

You should now see three-line type options. Select the one you want by clicking on it. You should see a checkmark next to your selection.

Dashed border in Google Docs
Dashed border in Google Docs

Your cells should now have the new border-line type, like the table shown in the screenshot above.

How to Center a Table on the Page of a Document

  1. Right-click anywhere on the table and select Table Properties.
  2. Click the Alignment drop-down
  3. Dropdown Table alignment to Center, click OK, and the table will be anchored to the Center of the page.

Right-Click on Table and Select Table Properties

Table Properties in Google Docs
Table Properties in Google Docs

First, right-click anywhere in the table and select “Table Properties” from the available options as shown in the screenshot above.

Click on the Alignment Dropdown

click on the alignment dropdown
click on the alignment dropdown

You should see the Table properties menu on the right side of the Google Docs window as shown above. Click on the Alignment option to open up the alignment options.

Under Table Alignment, Select Center from the Dropdown Options

Select Center to center your table in the Google Docs page
Select Center to center your table in the Google Docs page

Under Table alignment, click the dropdown menu and select Center from the available options.

Your table should now be centered on the page.

How to Edit the Structure of a Table

In general, there are two ways to make structural changes to a table in Google Docs.

  1. You can click on the table and go to the menu item Format, select Table, and choose your options.
  2. You can also Right-click on the table for a menu of the same options. 
Table formatting options in Google Docs
Table formatting options in Google Docs

There is no difference in outcome using either method. In the following examples, we are making structural edits using a Right-click.

How to Add a Column in Google Docs

To add a column in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Put your cursor where you want to add the column.
  2. Right-click, select Insert column right (or Insert column left depending on where you want the new column), and a new column will automatically appear.
  3. Fill in the new column

Place Cursor Where You Want to Add a Column

Place cursor where you want to add row or column in Google Docs
Place cursor where you want to add row or column in Google Docs

Click on the cell where you want to add another column.

Right Click and Select the Insert Column Left or Right Option

Right Click and Select Insert Column left or right
Right Click and Select Insert Column left or right

Next, right-click and select either Insert Column Left or Insert Column right depending on where you want the new column to be relative to the currently selected column.

A four column table in Google Docs
A four column table in Google Docs

A new column will appear. Fill in the cells for the new column.

How to Delete a Column in Google Docs

To delete a column in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Click on a cell in the column you want to delete
  2. Right-click and select Delete Column

Click on a Cell in the Column You Want to Delete

click in a cell of the column you want to delete
click in a cell of the column you want to delete

First, click on any cell in the column you want to delete.

Right-click and select Delete Column

Select Delete Column to delete the column
Select Delete Column to delete the column

Next, right-click and select Delete Column from the available options as shown in the screenshot above.

Four column table in google docs
Four column table in google docs

Your table should now show that the column has been deleted.

How to Split a Table in Google Docs

In this instance, we want to split some rows away from the table.

Enclosed below are the steps required to split a table in Google Docs:

  1. Highlight the rows you want to split away from the table.
  2. Left-click, hold to drag them downward, drop them below the table, and they will automatically separate from the table, leaving blank rows behind.

Highlight the rows you want to split away from the table.

Select the row(s) you want to split as from the table
Select the row(s) you want to split as from the table

Select the cells in the row(s) you want to split out from the table as shown in the screenshot above.

Click and Drag Row Below the Table

Click and Drag the row below your table
Click and Drag the row below your table

Next, click and drag the row below the table. Release the mouse button. The row(s) should now be separate from the table as shown in the screenshot above.

How to Delete Part of a Table in Google Docs

Sometimes, you want to delete certain parts of a table.

To delete part of a table in Google Docs, do the following:

  1. Highlight the rows to delete.
  2. Right-click and select Delete x Rows where x refers to the number of rows to be deleted

Select the rows to delete

Select cells
Select cells

Select the row(s) you want to delete by clicking and dragging your cursor across the rows you want to delete.

Right-click and select Delete x Rows where x refers to the number of rows to be deleted

choose delete x rows to delete rows in your table in Google Docs
choose delete x rows to delete rows in your table in Google Docs

Next, right-click and select Delete x rows where x refers to the number of rows you selected. In our example above, we select two (2) rows so the prompt states Delete 2 rows.

Table after deleting rows
Table after deleting rows

Your table should no longer contain the rows you deleted.

How to Merge Cells in a Table

One of the cool things you can do with tables in Google Docs is to merge cells.

Enclosed below are the steps for merging cells in Google Docs:

  1. Select the cells you want to merge.
  2. Right-click and select Merge cells.
  3. The new merged cell will contain the text from both original cells. Don’t forget to go to the new merged cell and edit the text if needed.

Highlight the cells you want to merge

Highlight the cells you want to merge.

Select the cells you want to merge by clicking and dragging across the cells you want to merge.

Right-click and select Merge cells

Right click and select “Merge Cells”

Next, right-click and select “Merge cells” from the available options as shown in the screenshot above.

Two cells merged in Google Docs
Two cells merged in Google Docs

Your cells should now be merged like the ones shown above.

How to Change the Width of a Table by Column Adjustments

  1. Hover your pointer over the outer borderline of the table.
  2. The pointer will turn into a drag and drop cursor as you hover directly over the borderline. It looks like a vertical cursor with horizontal arrows sticking out of both sides.
  3. When the cursor turns into the drag and drop cursor, left-click and hold to drag the border out or in.     
Tip: You may adjust inner columns using the same method by hovering over the borders of cells. Similarly, all row borders can be moved in this way to adjust row width.

Other Google Docs Tutorials and HowTos

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Ultimate Guide to Using Tables in Google Docslink

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