I have tables in the text I’m working on. One of them has gone haywire and refuses to go where it’s supposed to go. What do I do?

Here are three tables of varying sizes and number of columns. They look fine, they are in the right order and everything seems to be correct.

BUT, look at the following example.

The table below is arranged in its proper place, as part of Regulation 24B, with regulation 25A immediately below it.

Tables None

Here we have the exact same table with the same two regulations, but…. There’s something wrong, isn’t there?

Table Around

For some reason, the table has jumped into the row that should rad Regulation 25A. Why? How to fix this?

When you create tables you decide how many rows and how many cells you want.

Insert Table

There are a number of things to do after the table has been created. The first thing to do is go into the Table Properties.

In Word 2010 and 2013 these are found under the Table Tools tab

Table Tools

The Table Properties can be found under the Layout tab, in the group called Table, on the far left of the screen

In Word 2003 they are found under the Table menu.

Insert Table 2003

In all three version of Word, the Table Properties dialog box looks more or less the same

Table Properties

Halfway down the dialog box there is a section called Text wrapping – that is what controls the positioning of the table and its general behavior on the page.

The default is usually None (which means that the table sits on the next empty line of text), but sometimes the tables are set to Around (this means that the text arranges itself around the table) and if that is the option selected, the table will be impossible to arrange and position properly.

Always, check this when you start working on a table, and if, by chance, the table is set to the Around option in Text wrapping, change it to None.

Correcting Wrong-direction Tables

As a rule, tables are creatures of habit. When you create a table, it usually does what you wanted to do, that is, if you are working on a Hebrew document and you create a table, it will usually be a right-to-left table, while, if you’re working on an English document and you create a table, it will usually be a left-to-right table.

When you use CAT tools to translate a file and that file contains tables, the CAT tool will automatically flip the tables as you translates them. If for some reason, the tables are flipped around in the original document, they will also be in the wrong direction in the translated document, although they will look correct.

An important thing to understand is that the direction of the table does not affect the text direction, it just affects the behavior of the table itself.

The table below is a table that has been correctly created in a Hebrew document, as you can see from the little box with a cross (top right hand side), and from the symbols on the left-hand side of the table which are end-of-cell marks.

The table marker will always show you the table direction: if it is on the right-hand side of the table, the table is a right-to-left table and vice versa.

Correct heb table

The table marker will always show if you’re in a table, the end-of-cell mark will only show if you work with hidden formatting symbols showing (see below).

Show hide

The table below is the same table as above after it has been converted from a PDF file to a word file by ABBYY.

Wron direction Hebjpg

ABBYY normally converts Hebrew PDF files very well, but because it does not actually work with Hebrew, it treats all text as running from left to right and thus any table it converts will become a left-to-right table. As you can see, the table looks right, but it is the wrong way round. This table, when translated, will be the wrong way round in English as well, as shown below.

Wron Eng table

What happens when  the table is the wrong way round is that if, say, you want to copy numbers into it from another table that is left-to-right, the columns you are trying to copy-paste will go completely awry, because the receiving table is actually working in the opposite direction. You can find out very easily if the table is in the right direction – all you need to do is place your cursor in one cell and press TAB. If the table is Left-to-right the cursor will jump to the cell to the right of the one it was in, if it is right-to-left the cursor will jump to the cell to the left of the one it was in.

Admittedly, you can leave the table as it is, because it looks correct, but if you need to work with them, if you need to make changes, etc., this is not really an option. So what do you do?

Well, what I do is, I flip the table so it is a left-to-right table, but then I have the text on the wrong side and the number columns are also the wrong way. Not a problem – a bit laborious maybe, but fairly easy.

Flipped table

First of all, if there are merged cells as in the table above (the cell with the text (Unaudited)), I split the merged cell into two cells and I make sure that they are identical to the rest of the column.

split cellsjpg

Then I move each column to the left of the text column, one by one, starting with the one nearest the text column. I move each column to just inside the end-of-cell mark and leave it. You do that by selecting the column and then keeping the left mouse button pressed, you drag the entire column over to the right hand side of the text column.

The table after the first column has been moved.

One column

The table after the second column has been moved.

Two columns

The table after the last column has been moved.

Reversed table

And there you have a left-to-right table, looking correct and behaving correctly. All you need to do now, is re-merge the (Unaudited) cells.

True, if you have forty or eighty pages of tables running in the wrong direction the thought of having to go through this process forty or eighty times is very depressing, but I assure you after the first few times, you’ll notice it gets easier and faster all the time.