How to merge table cells in MS Word

Merging table cells is an excellent way to add better table structure and layout to your tables in MS Word.

This feature allows you to join two or more cells into one larger cell.

One of the many common reasons to do this is when you need to insert the title of your table as the table heading.

And, you want this heading to be a single row that is as wide as your table width or wide enough for subcategories. 

Now, there are about three ways we can merge table cells in MS Word. 

3 Ways to Merge Table Cells in MS Word

  • Using the Layout Tab in the Ribbon
  • Using the Context Menu 
  • Using the Table Eraser Tool 

We will cover all three methods in this guide down below. We also included a separate section on how to edit and split cells in MS Word. 

We have created this tutorial with beginners in mind, so you should find the steps relatively easy to follow. At the same time, we’ll expound on each of the methods bit by bit. 

Let’s dive right in! 


Why Should You Merge Table Cells in MS Word?

When using tables to organize text on your document, it is quite often a challenge to create a layout that your readers would find easy to understand. MS Word offers a lot of ready-to-use templates to make your tables look nicer. However, these templates are not as handy when it comes to organizing your table contents in a versatile and personal way. Fortunately, MS Word provides a tool to address this concern.

Merging table cells allows you to organize your content more effectively. A good rule of thumb as to when you should merge your table cells is when: 

  • You want to have a single row as wide as your table width—such as a table header.  
  • You want to have a single column as high as your table height.
  • You want to insert long texts but don’t want to adjust the width of your cells.
  • You want to combine two or more cells in a row or column to tell your readers that the cells across it or below it are part of the same group. 
  • You want to give your table a better structure and a nicer look.  

Of course, you don’t have to follow these rules strictly, as these are just general guidelines that you can follow. We understand that there are other situations when merging table cells is useful. But, the ones mentioned above are the ideal examples of when to merge your table cells.  

Important note: merging cells will combine and delete the data of certain cells. By default, the top-left most cell’s information will be retained and used in the new merged area. Keep this in mind as this may delete the information of some cells without you meaning to do so.

Having said that, here’s how you can merge table cells in MS Word.


Method 1: Using the Layout Tab in the Ribbon

The Ribbon contains all of the available functions in MS Word, including the different table formatting tools. In this method, we’ll guide you through the steps to access the Merge Cells button in the Ribbon with just a few clicks.  

Here’s how you can do that. 

Step 1: Open up your MS Word document. 

Before anything else, we will need a Word document opened. Feel free to use your own personal documents for this tutorial. The changes made in this step can be easily reverted, so you shouldn’t have to worry about destroying your file. 

Step 2: Select the cells that you want to merge.  

In your table, select the cells that you want to merge. You can do this by highlighting multiple rows or columns or both. Please do make sure though that you are selecting adjacent cells.   

For this example, we will merge the cells in the top row to make a table heading. 

  1. Select the cells at the top row. 

Step 3: Go to the Layout Tab in the Ribbon. 

Whenever the table is on focus, or when your cursor is anywhere inside your table, the Layout tab will be visible in the Ribbon. Once activated, you’ll find the Layout tab at the end of the Ribbon. You should also notice the Design tab right next to it. Both are under the Table Tools heading. 

Step 4: Select the Merge Cells button. 

Hover to the middle part of the Ribbon. Under the Merge group, click the Merge Cells button

Your document should now look something like the image below.

Congratulations! You have just merged table cells using the Merge Cells button in MS Word.    


Method 2: Using the Context Menu

This method is, by far, the fastest way to merge table cells in MS Word. It’s so fast that you can merge cells in just two clicks. 

Here’s how you can do that.  

Step 1: Open up an MS Word document. 

First off, go ahead and open an MS Word document or, better yet, use your own personal document where you need table cells merged. If you’re worried about messing up your document, don’t be distressed! The changes made here can easily be undone. 

Step 2: Select the table cells you want to merge. 

Carefully select two or more cells in your table that you want to merge. Make sure to only select adjacent cells. You can highlight adjacent rows or columns or both at the same time. 

For this example, we want to merge the cell with the word ‘Printer’ and the two cells below it.  

1. Select the cells of the Printer group. 

Step 3: Right-click on the selected table cells. 

While the cells are selected, right-click on the highlighted area to show the Context menu. You will see two pop-up menus right beside your cursor. Select the Merge cells found on the lower menu. 

This is how the merged cells will look like: 

And that’s it! You’ve successfully merged table cells in MS Word in as easy as one-two-three. 


Method 3: Using the Table Eraser Tool 

Like borders in spreadsheets, MS Word allows us to erase specific borders of table cells using the Table Eraser tool. You might be wondering why we are erasing the cell borders when we want to merge cells. The fact of the matter is we are, in effect, merging cells into one when we erase the borders between them. 

This tool comes in very handy, especially when you want to merge cells without touching the table contents. 

Let’s do it! 

Step 1: Open up an MS Word document.

First things first, open up your MS Word document and locate your table where you want cells merged. If you are using your own personal documents, do not worry about messing it up, as the changes can easily be undone by pressing CTRL+Z.  

Step 2: Go to the Layout tab. 

Click anywhere on your table to activate the Table Layout tab. You will find this somewhere in the middle part of your MS Word window. 

Step 3: Select the Eraser Tool. 

On the left side of the Ribbon, under the Draw group, click the Eraser button. You will notice your cursor will change into a white eraser icon. 

Now, go back to your table and click the border between the cells you want to merge. If you’re merging cells in a row, click the vertical border between the cells. On the other hand, if you’re merging columns, click the horizontal border between the cells. 

For this step, we will erase the borders between the first three dates in the column Log. These are the dates for the item ‘Printer’.  

1. Click the borders between the first three dates to erase them. 

The resulting table should look like this: 

In addition, you can erase multiple borders at once by clicking and dragging your cursor horizontally and/or vertically. This, then, will make the Eraser tool highlight the borders in red and erase them once you let go of the left-click. 

Take note, however, that doing so will delete the contents of the merged cells. Remember to use this feature only when you are merging empty table cells. 

For example, we want to merge the bottom row starting from the second column up to the last one. You must note, however, that we don’t mind the contents being deleted in this case as we are simply illustrating the procedure. 

 Now, we will select the borders between these cells. 

  1. Select the borders between the cell ‘LCD’ and the cell ‘08/08/2017’.

As a result, it should look like the picture below. 

We understand that you may find it challenging to select the borders accurately. So, again, simply press CTRL+Z if you want to revert any changes.  

There you have it! You have just merged table cells in MS Word using the Eraser Tool


Editing or Deleting Table Cells in MS Word

Be careful when editing tables involving merged cells in MS Word. Merged cells cannot be deleted. Delete Cells option in MS Word is used to literally delete table cells. Deleting merged cells is actually Splitting Cells in MS Word. 

On the other hand, here’s a quick method on how you can Split Cells in MS Word.  

Splitting Cells in MS Word

Click on the merged cell that you want to split. On the Layout tab, select the Split Cells button. The Split Cells pop-up menu will appear in the middle of your document. Fill in the number of rows and columns you want to split. 

For this example, we will split the merged cell ‘Printer’, so we’ll type 1 in the Number of columns: field and 3 in the Number of rows: field.

  1. Type 1 in the Number of columns: box.
  2. Type 3 in the Number of rows: box. 

You will notice that the Split Cells option is only visible when you have selected merged cells.  

Editing Merged Cells in MS Word

Now, if you realized that you needed more cells merged than the one you just did, you can easily edit the merged cells to include more. You can do this by simply following the same exact steps we did in any of the methods mentioned above. 

Note, however, that the formatting of the contents of cells you are merging will change slightly. You will discover that each cell’s content will be placed a line below the previous cell’s content. This is always true when you are merging cells in a row. 


Conclusion

You have finally arrived at the end of this guide. We hope that we’ve helped you figure out how to merge table cells in MS Word. Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve discussed today. 

Merging table cells in your MS Word not only makes your document look nicer but also adds structure to your table content. There will always be a situation where you will need to merge two or more table cells.

And, in this tutorial, we covered three ways to do just that. First, you can use the Layout tab to access the Merge Cells button. Second, you can use the Merge cells option found on the context menu when you right-click on the selected table cells.

This will allow you to quickly access the Merge cells option. Last but not the least, you can use the Eraser tool to erase the borders of a table cell.  

We hope you found this article helpful!

Leave a Comment