LibreOffice allows for quicker table modification than Word

Tables are one of the most integral parts of a document. Common advice is to plan a table, so you know how many columns and rows you need.

However, many times you receive more data and need to add rows. Data parameters also change, so you need to add columns and create new categories.

Documents are also designed with tables. When designs need to change columns and rows in those tables also will need to change.

Most word processors offer easy ways to add columns and rows to tables.This article will examine how to add columns and rows in LibreOffice Writer and Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows are inserted or deleted.

LibreOffice
LibreOffice has several ways to add rows and columns. Here are the ways to add them.

  • Table menu
  • Context menu
  • Table toolbar

All three have the same items in them, if you only need to add or delete a few rows or columns. The Table and Context menus have items that open dialogs, in case you need to add more than a few columns or rows.

The items in the Table and Context menus are the same, so they will be covered in the same section.

Writer’s table toolbar appears when you select a table. It is the second sub-section under LibreOffice.

Table menu and Context menu
The Insert and Delete sub-menus under the Table menu there are several choices. Right-click on the table, and you will see the same two sub-menus.

Insert menu in Table and Context menusInsert sub-menu in Table menu
The Insert menus have the following items.

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

Rows Above and Rows Below
These two items place one row above or below the row where the cursor is located.

  1. Click the row where you want a row to be inserted above or below.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  3. Highlight the Insert sub-menu
  4. Click Rows Above or Rows Below.

This will add 1 row above or below the row where there is a cursor.

Insert sub-menu in Context menu
The context menu for a table appears when you right-click on a table. It has the the same items that are in the Table menu.

These insertion items also allow you to add more than one row per click. To do this you need to select the number of rows in your table that you want to add. However, they can only add up to the number of rows that are already in your table.

If your table has five rows and you want to insert three above the second to top row do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  4. Highlight the Insert sub-menu
  5. Click Rows Above.

Now there are three rows above the row that was the second from the top in the table.

If you want to insert three rows below the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  4. Highlight the Insert sub-menu
  5. Click Rows Below.

Now there are three new rows beneath the fourth row.

If you want to add more rows than are already in your table.

Rows item

Insert Rows dialog
If you have more than a few rows to add, you will need to use this dialog.

This item opens an Insert Rows dialog that allows you to set the number rows of that you want to insert before or after the selected row.

  1. Click the row where you want a row to be inserted above or below.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu.
  3. Highlight the Insert sub-menu.
  4. Click the Rows item.
  5. In the Number text box, type the desired number of rows that you want to insert.
    • You also can click the up and down arrow buttons to increase or decrease that number.
  6. Select the radio button next to Before, if you want the new rows to be inserted above the row where your cursor is located. Select the one next to After, if you want them to be below the cursor row.
  7. Click the OK button when you are done.

The new rows will be added.

Columns Left and Columns Below
These two items place one column to the left or to the right of the column where the cursor is located.

  1. Click the column where you want a column to be inserted to the left of or to the right of.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  3. Highlight the Insert sub-menu
  4. Click Columns Left or Columns Right.

This will add 1 column to the left of or to the right of the column where there is a cursor.

These insertion items also allow you to add more than one column per click. To do this you need to select the number of columns in your table that you want to add. However, they can only add up to the number of columns that are already in your table.

If your table has five columns and you want to insert three to the left of the second column, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  4. Highlight the Insert sub-menu.
  5. Click Columns Left.

Now there are eight columns. There are three new columns to the left of the column that was the second column.

If you want to insert three columns to right the same five-column table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  4. Highlight the Insert sub-menu.
  5. Click Columns Right.

Now there are three new rows to the right of the second column.

If you want to add more columns than are already in your table.

Column itemInsert Columns dialog
This item opens an Insert Columns dialog that allows you to set the number columns of that you want to insert to the left of or to the right of the selected column.

  1. Click the column where you want a column to be inserted to the left of or to the right of.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu.
  3. Highlight the Insert sub-menu.
  4. Click the Columns item.
  5. In the Number text box, type the desired number of columns that you want to insert.
    • You also can click the up and down arrow buttons to increase or decrease that number.
  6. Select the radio button next to Before, if you want the new rows to be inserted above the row where your cursor is located. Select the one next to After, if you want them to be below the cursor row.
  7. Click the OK button when you are done.Delete sub-menu in Table menu

The new columns will be added.

Deleting rows
To delete a row, simply click a cell in the row you want to delete. Then:

  1. Click the row that you want to delete.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  3. Highlight the Delete sub-menu
  4. Click Rows.

If you want to delete more than one row, highlight cells in the rows you want to

Delete sub-menu in Context menu
The context menu for a table appears when you right-click on a table. It has the the same items that are in the Table menu.

delete then click the rows item.

Deleting columns
To delete a column, simply click a cell in the column you want to delete. Then:

  1. Click the row that you want to delete.
  2. Click the Table menu or Right-click menu
  3. Highlight the Delete sub-menu
  4. Click Columns.

If you want to delete more than one row, highlight cells in the columns you want to delete then click the columns item.

Table toolbar
The table toolbar is typically located at the bottom of the window. It appears when you select a table.

Table toolbar in LibreOffice Writer
The first six icons in the toolbar allow you to insert columns and rows, as well as delete them.

It has several icons for inserting and deleting columns and rows:

  • Rows Above
  • Rows Below
  • Columns Left
  • Columns Right
  • Rows (delete)
  • Columns (delete)

Inserting rows
The first step is to select the row you want to insert a row above or below. Clicking the Rows Above or Rows Below icon will add one row, if the cursor is flashing in a current row.

These icons also allow you to add more than one row per click. To do this you need to select the number of rows in your table that you want to add.

If your table has five rows and you want to insert three above the second to top row do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Rows Above in the toolbar.

Now there are three rows above the row that was the second from the top in the table.

If you want to insert three rows below the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Rows Below in the toolbar.

Now there are three new rows beneath the fourth row.

These two examples demonstrate how the Rows Above and Rows Below icons work. The Rows Above icon only adds rows above the top selected row. The Rows Below icon only adds rows below the bottom row that is highlighted.

Inserting columns
Inserting columns through toolbar icons is similar to use inserting rows. Click a cell in the column you want to insert a row to the left or right of. Then click the Columns Left or Columns Right icon.

Like with the rows icons, these icons also allow you to add more than one column per click. To do this you need to select the number of columns in your table that you want to add.

If your table has five columns and you want to insert three to the left of the second column, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Columns Left in the toolbar.

Now there are eight columns. There are three new columns to the left of the column that was the second column.

If you want to insert three columns to right the same five-column table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Columns Right in the toolbar.

Now there are three new rows to the right of the second column.

Deleting rows
To delete a row, simply click a cell in the row you want to delete. Then click the Rows icon with the red line.

If you want to delete more than one row, highlight cells in the rows you want to delete then click the Rows (delete) icon.

Deleting columns
To delete a column, simply click a cell in the column you want to delete. Then click the Columns icon with the red line.

If you want to delete more than one row, highlight cells in the columns you want to delete then click the Columns (delete) icon.

Word 2016 for Windows
The features to add columns and rows can be found under the Layout ribbon that appears when a table is selected. They are also two icon drop-down menus in the context menu.

Layout ribbon
Rows and Columns section in Layout ribbon of Word 2016 for Windows

When a table is selected two ribbons appear under the Table Tools section: Design and Layout.

In the Layout ribbon, there is a section for Rows and Columns that contains icons to insert and delete columns and rows.

Inserting rows in the Layout ribbon
Like in LibreOffice, you can insert one or more rows, depending on how many current rows you select.

To insert 1 row:

  1. Click the row you want to insert a row above or below.
  2. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  3. Click the Insert Above or Insert Below.

The new row is now in the table.

To insert more than one row:

If your table has five rows and you want to insert three above the second to top row do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  4. Click the Insert Above icon.

Now there are three rows above the row that was the second from the top in the table.

If you want to insert three rows below the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  4. Click the Insert Below icon.

Now there are three new rows beneath the fourth row.

Inserting columns in the Layout ribbon
To insert 1 column:
1. Click the column you want to insert a column to the left of the selected column or to the right of.
2. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
3. Click the Insert Left or Insert Right icons.

The new column is now in the table.

To insert more than one column:
If your table has five columns and you want to insert three to the left of the second column do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  4. Click the Insert Left icon.

Now there are three columns to the left of the column that was the second column in the table.

If you want to insert three columns to the right of the second column in the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the Layout ribbon, if it is not already selected.
  4. Click the Insert Right icon.

Now there are three new columns to the right of the second column.

Deleting rows in Layout menuDelete menu in Layout ribbon in Word 2016
To delete a row:

  1. Click a cell in the column you want to delete.
  2. Click the Layout ribbon.
  3. Then click arrow under the Delete icon.
  4. Click Delete Rows.

If you want to delete more than one column, highlight cells in the rows you want to delete. Then follow the above steps.

Deleting columns in Layout menu
To delete a column:

  1. Click a cell in the column you want to delete.
  2. Click the Layout ribbon.
  3. Then click arrow under the Delete icon.
  4. Click Delete Columns.

If you want to delete more than one column, highlight cells in the columns you want to delete. Then follow the above steps.

Context menu
There are two icons in the context menu that appears when you right-click in a table cell: Insert and Delete. They have the same items that are in the Rows and Columns section of the Layout ribbon.

Insert rows in context menuInsert menu in Context menu of Word 2016
To insert 1 row:

  1. Click the row you want to insert a row above or below.
  2. Click the right mouse button.
  3. Click the Insert icon.
  4. Click the Insert Above or Insert Below items.

To insert more than one row:

If your table has five rows and you want to insert three above the second to top row do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the right mouse button.
  4. Click the Insert icon.
  5. Click the Insert Above.

Now there are three columns to the left of the column that was the second column in the table.

If you want to insert three rows below the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the row that is second from the top.
  2. Highlight it and the two rows below it.
  3. Click the right mouse button.
  4. Click the Insert icon.
  5. Click the Insert Below.

Now there are three new rows beneath the fourth row.

Insert columns in context menu
To insert 1 column:

  1. Click the column you want to insert a column to the left of or to the right of.
  2. Click the right mouse button.
  3. Click the Insert icon.
  4. Click the Insert Left or Insert Right items.

To insert more than one column:

If your table has five columns and you want to insert three to the left of the second column do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the right mouse button.
  4. Click the Insert icon.
  5. Click the Insert Left item.

Now there are three columns to the left of the column that was the second column in the table.

If you want to insert three columns to the right of the second column in the same five-row table, do the following:

  1. Click a cell in the column that is second from the left.
  2. Highlight it and the two columns to the right of it.
  3. Click the right mouse button.
  4. Click the Insert icon.
  5. Click the Insert Right item.

Now there are three new columns to the right of the second column.

Delete menu in Context menu of Word 2016Deleting rows in Context menu

To delete a row:

  1. Click a cell in the column you want to delete.
  2. Click the right button on the mouse.
  3. Then click arrow under the Delete icon.
  4. Click Delete Rows.

If you want to delete more than one column, highlight cells in the rows you want to delete. Then follow the above steps.

Deleting columns in Context menu
To delete a column:

  1. Click a cell in the column you want to delete.
  2. Click the right button on the mouse.
  3. Then click arrow under the Delete icon.
  4. Click Delete Columns.

If you want to delete more than one column, highlight cells in the columns you want to delete. Then follow the above steps.

Conclusion
LibreOffice and Word 2016 for Windows have multiple ways of inserting columns and rows or deleting them. Word, however, is limited to how many that can be inserted at one time. It only allows you to insert one at a time, or it will only allow you to insert up to the number of columns or rows that are in the table already.

It lacks the Insert Columns and Insert Rows dialog that LibreOffice has. Through these to dialogs, LibreOffice allows you to insert many rows and columns at one time.

However, if you only want to add one column or one row at a time, LibreOffice has an advantage over Word. The toolbar that appears when you select a table gives you quick access to the insertion icons. In Word, it takes two or more steps each time you want to insert a row or a column.

Word allows you to insert individual cells, which LibreOffice does not.

LibreOffice can do a better job of modifying tables. If a table you create in Word is fairly simple and won’t lose its format in Writer, you can open the document in Writer. This would give you the ability to edit the table more quickly than you could in Word.

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