Tables are a common feature in word processors. You can create one in applications that run native on desktops, servers you access through Web browsers, and smart phones and tablets.

LibreOffice Writer, like the others, allows you to create tables. It also has many features, allowing you to design and stylize tables, that other word processors do not. Many of the features rival those of Microsoft Word.

This article gives an overview of the table features in Writer and how to perform some of the basic functions. Other related articles cover other aspects of tables.
The sections of this article are as follows:

Inserting a table

There are two ways to insert a table: through the Table menu or through the Standard toolbar.LibreOffice Writer Inserting Table item

The table menu has an Insert Table item that opens an Insert Table window, where you can give the table a name, set the number of columns, and set the number of rows.

The icon in the Standard toolbar, that looks like a table, has a drop-down arrow that when you click it reveals a grid that allows you to quickly and easily select the number of rows and columns.

  1. Click on the icon in the Standard toolbar.
  2. When the grid appears, move your cursor right and down over it until the desired number of columns and rows are set. The grid allows you to set up to 10 columns and 15 rows.
  3. Click the left mouse button to insert the table in your document. It will be placed where the cursor is located.

The More Options button opens the Insert Table window that will be discussed in the next section.

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Insert Table window

The name field in the Insert Table window is a text box that has the word “Table” followed by a number. The number depends on which table you are creating in your document. If it is the first table, it will be called “Table1;” if it is the second table, it will be called “Table2;” etc.

You can rename a table whatever you want. Simply click on the “Table#” text and type in a desired name.

The Columns and Rows fields are text boxes with up and down arrow buttons to the right of them.
Either click the number in the Rows or Columns text box and type in the desired number or click the up or down arrow buttons on either one to adjust the number by 1. The default for both boxes is 2.

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Options

This section of the window contains several check boxes:

  • Heading: A check in this box makes at least the first row a heading row with a heading style. For example the text may be bold, centered and the cells have a different background color. They would be in a style that distinguishes them from other rows in the table.
    • Repeat heading rows on new pages: A check in this box means they heading rows would be the first rows on the part of a table that spills over to subsequent pages. This check box requires that a check be placed in the Heading check box before it is active.Once there is a check in this box, the associated text box becomes active as well. This allows you to enter how many heading rows you want. You can either click on the number and then type in the desired number or click the up and down arrow buttons to increase or decrease the number by one per click.
    • Don’t split table over pages: Putting a check in this box means that a table that is being inserted near the bottom of a page, and would be too long to fit entirely on that page, would be moved to the next page, rather than exist on two pages. This will not work on tables that are so long that they take up more than one full page.
  • Border: This gives a border to the walls and cells of the table. It will be the default border set up in Writer, typically 1 pt. Solid black.

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AutoFormat

The AutoFormat button opens the AutoFormat window, which allows you to apply a preset style. This will be covered in a separate article.

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Adding a column or row

Sometimes you need to add an entry to a table or create a new category. Writer gives you several different ways to do these.

Right-clicking inside a table

  1. Click in a cell that is in the row or column you wish to add to.
    • A column can be inserted to the left or right of where your cursor is located.
    • A row can be inserted above or below the row where your cursor is located.
  2. Highlight the Insert sub-menu in the right-click menu. The choices are:
    • Rows Above
    • Rows Below
    • Rows: The two above choices insert one row at a time. Clicking this opens an Insert Rows window. This has a text box with up and down arrow buttons that allows you to set how many rows are to be inserted. In the Position section, choose whether you want the rows to be inserted Before (above) or After (below) the row where the cursor is located. Click the OK button when you have things set the way you want.
    • Columns Left
    • Columns Right
    • Columns: The two above choices insert one column at a time. Clicking this opens an Insert Columns window. This has a text box with up and down arrow buttons that allows you to set how many columns are to be inserted. In the Position section, choose whether you want the columns to be inserted Before (left) or After (right) the row where the cursor is located.
  3. Click the OK button when you have things set the way you want.

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Table menu

Another way to add columns and rows is through the Table menu. The menu has the same Insert sub-menu as the right-click menu.

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Table toolbar

The Table toolbar also has several icons for adding columns and rows. It appears automatically when you click on a table. You also can select it by clicking the view menu, then highlighting the Toolbars sub-menu. Click on table from that menu.

The toolbar has four icons for adding columns or rows:

    • Rows Above
    • Rows Below
    • Columns Left
    • Columns Right

Simply click one of these icons to add a row or column.

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Deleting a row or column

Writer does not give you the same options for deleting rows and columns as it does for inserting them. If your cursor is in only one cell, you can only delete one row or column at a time.

You can delete multiple rows and columns by selecting multiple rows or columns.

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Selecting multiple rows and columns

To select multiple rows:

  1. Place the cursor in the top, left cell of the top row that you want to delete.
  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse to the right until all the desired rows are selected.
  3. Use one of the three below methods to delete the rows.

To select multiple columns:

  1. Place the cursor in the top cell of the farthest left column that you want to delete.
  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse until all the desired columns are selected.
  3. Use one of the three below methods to delete the columns.

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Deleting

  1. If you only want one row or column deleted, click in a cell that is in the row or column you wish to delete. If you want more than one column or row deleted, use the steps in LibreOffice Writer Delete sub-menuthe previous sections to select the multiple rows and columns.
  2. Do one of the following things:
    • Click the right button on your mouse
    • Click the Table menu
    • Click one of the icons in the Table toolbar. If you use this method, there is no need to go to step 3 and 4.
      • Delete Rows
      • Delete Columns
  3. Highlight the Delete sub-menu in the menu.
  4. Click one of the choices. NOTE: The Table choice will be covered in the next section.
    • Rows
    • Columns

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Deleting tables

You can only delete one table at a time.

    1. Click on a desired table so the cursor is flashing in it.
    2. Perform one of the following:
      • Click the right button on your mouse
      • Click the Table menu
      • Click the Delete Table icon in the Table toolbar. If you use this method, there is no need to go to step 3 and 4.
    3. Highlight the Delete sub-menu in the menu.
    4. Click the Table item.

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Selecting table and cells

In addition to using your mouse to select cells in a table, there is also Select Cells and Select Table icons in the Table toolbar.LibreOffice Writer select table and cell icons

These cannot be used to delete a cell or an entire table.It can only be used to delete the contents of a cell or table. After clicking one of these two icons, press the Backspace or Delete key on your keyboard.

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Merging cells

Sometimes the traditional table, with the equal number of rows and columns, doesn’t meet your needs. Your data may need a table that doesn’t have the same number of cells in each row and column.

Writer has merging functions to combine cells, changing the traditional layout of a table to meet your needs.

This is a simple one-click function that requires you to first highlight the cells you want to merge. LibreOffice Writer Merge Cells

To select multiple cells:

  1. Place the cursor in the top cell of the farthest left column that you want to delete.
  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse until all the desired cells are selected.
  3. Then use one of the following methods to merge the cells:
    • Right-click over the highlighted cells, then click the Merge Cells item in the menu
    • Click the Table menu, then click Merge Cells item in the menu.
    • Click the Merge Cells icon in the Table toolbar.

Text in the individual cells will be place in the newly formed cell, and their alignment (left, center, or right) will remain the same as it was in the individual cells. If the text in cell 1 is left aligned and the text in cell 2 is right aligned, when the two cells are merged, text from cell 1 will be left aligned, and text from cell 2 will remain right aligned.

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Splitting cells

There are other times when you need to do the opposite of merging cells. You need to make some of the cells into smaller units.

In this case, splitting cells is the function for you. It allows you to split one cell at a time or select multiple cells and split them.

  1. Place your cursor in the cell you want to split.
  2. Then do one of the following:
    • Click the Split Cells in the Table toolbar.
    • Click the Table menu, then click the Split Cells item.
  3. This opens the Split Cells window.
    1. Set how many cells you want to split the cells into. Either type the number of cells, in Split cells into text box, or use the up and down arrow buttons. One click will change the number by one.LibreOffice Writer Split Cells window
    2. In the Direction section, select either Horizontally or Vertically. If you choose Horizontally, select the check box if you want the new cells to be of equal height.
    3. Click the OK button.

All of the text will remain in the original cell.

If you want to split more than one cell, perform the following steps:

  1. Place the cursor in the top, left cell of the top row that you want to delete.
  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse to the right until all the desired rows are selected.
  3. Use the steps in the previous section.

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