PowerPoint 2013: Tables


There are at least four ways to place tables on a PowerPoint 2013 slide.  They are:

  1. Click the table content placeholder on the standard title & content slide layout, and manually define the number of rows and columns your table is to contain;
  2. Use the Insert > Table command and drag over a tabular grid pattern to define your table;
  3. Paste a copied table from Word or Excel (with an embed option discussed below);
  4. Draw your table with the Draw Table tool.

Before creating, or copying in a table, consider replacing it with a chart with, if necessary, data point labels.  Charts on a slide can have much more impact than a table.  But for those occasions where nothing else will do, here is how to work with tables.

The table content placeholder.

The standard title & content slide layout contains six content placeholders.  The first is for tables.

Inset Placeholders

Click the content placeholder to get a dialog box that will allow you to define your table.

Table Definition Dialog

The resulting table will fill the overall content placeholder’s width.  To easily ad an additional row, click in the lower left table cell and press tab.

The insert table command.

On the insert tab click the drop-down under the Table command.  Drag over the grid pattern to define your table.  The squares that “light up” will each become a table cell.

Insert Table from Grid

If you use this procedure on a slide that already contains a table content placeholder, the resulting table will use the placeholder and fill the width of its overall content placeholder.  If not, the table will be narrower and free-floating on the slide in its own placeholder.

 Paste a copied table.

A third alternative is to paste a copied table from Word or Excel.  To do this, first copy the table and then right-click the slide where you wish to place the copied table.  You will see the following paste-options.

Paste Options

From left to right the options are:

  1. Use destination style (shortcut key = S);
  2. Keep source formatting (K);
  3. Embed (E);
  4. Paste as a Picture (U);
  5. Keep Text Only (T).

Almost always the first choice is the one you want.  Once you have pasted the table in using choice 1, you can fine-tune its formatting using the Table Tools Design or Layout tabs.

Table Tools

Whether you paste the table into a slide with a content placeholder or not, it will not use the placeholder using this technique.  You will almost certainly need to increase the font size of the cells, and resize the overall table, to make it legible.  You can control specific table row and column formatting using the Table Style Options on the Table Tools > Design tab.

Table Style Options

We will discuss embedding objects and paste special in a later post, but for now note that embedding of the actual Word or Excel object is possible through the paste options (number 3) listed above.  This is usually not what you want to do, because in doing so you are embedding an actual copy of the Word or Excel object on the slide, rather than a copy of it free of its original parameters.  When you select such an embedded object you have access to the Drawing Tools, for formatting, but not the Table Tools.  Unless you need to demonstrate embedded Word or Excel techniques, do not use this choice.

Draw the table.

On occasion you will a complex table, and here your only solution will be to draw it.  You can either create a basic table using one of the techniques discussed above, and then select the drawing tools from the Table Tools tab, or you can draw it from scratch by invoking the Draw Table command from the Insert > Table drop-down,

Draw Table Tool Drop-down

and then using the Table Tools to active the pencil tool or the eraser tool.

Draw Table Design Tools

This is the easiest way, and in some rare cases the only way, to create certain complex table layouts.

Drawn Table

Here is a brief video summarizing these techniques.