For my thesis, I need to format the tables following the American Psychological Association (APA) conventions, which means

  • no vertical borders
  • borders on top, bottom and between the headings and the content

Something like this:

column_header_1 ... column_header_n
cell_1          ... cell_N  
cell_1          ... cell_N

Or, in Microsoft Word (I don't have enough reputation to embed an image yet).

How do I do that in Microsoft Word? I would like a solution that is quickly applicable to a number of tables. Fixing one table at a time is tedious.


You can use the "Plain Table 2" style (your example looks like it).

  1. Create your table, then go to Table Design. Select "Plain Table 2" among the Table Styles.

Plain Table 2 style

  1. Select the table, then uncheck all the options but "Header Row" under Table Style Options.

Table Style Options

  1. The table will look like the image below.

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you Reddy, but I need only three borders, on top, bottom and after the headings. No border between content rows. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:10
  • Reddy, Plain Table 2 is the right answer, but your image is not consistent with it and my requirements. If you improve your answer I will accept it. Also one needs to have only "Header Row" checked on the left. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:52
  • @MicheleDorigatti I edited my answer to reflect (I hope), the requirements about the rows. – Reddy Lutonadio Nov 15 '19 at 16:48
  • I accepted it, but edited it to reflect that one must uncheck also "First Column". It needs peer review, since I don't have enough reputation. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 16 '19 at 12:24
  1. Highlight the entire table, and select the Design tab under Table Tools.
  2. Click on the expand symbol in the lower right of the Borders section of the ruler. The Borders and Shading dialog will open.
  3. Click on the Borders tab of the dialog.
  4. Click on "None" under Setting.
  5. Click on OK. You now have a table with no lines.
  6. Highlight the entire first row of the table.
  7. Open the Borders and Shading dialog (as in step 2 above).
  8. On the Preview section at the right, click both buttons (top and bottom borders) to the left of the preview.
  9. Click on OK. You now have lines above and below the titles.
  10. Highlight the entire bottom row of the table.
  11. Open the Borders and Shading dialog.
  12. Click on the bottom-border button at the left side of the preview.
  13. Click OK. You now have the borders you want.

EDIT: Found a faster way to do the same thing, but it's still a one-table-at-a-time fix:

  1. Follow the previous instructions up to and including step 4.
  2. Look over to the right at the preview. Click on the Top and Bottom border buttons only.
  3. Click OK. You now have a table with top and bottom borders.
  4. Highlight the top row of the table only.
  5. Open the Borders and Shading dialog.
  6. Click on the bottom border button. This will add a bottom border to the highlighted cell.
  7. Click OK. You now have the table formatted as desired.
| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you Jeff. This works, I guess, but not fun when you need to fix 10 tables. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:11
  • Well, if you're skilled with VBA macros in Word (I'm not), I suppose you could automate it that way, so that it's just 'select table then run macro' for each table... – Jeff Zeitlin Nov 15 '19 at 14:33
  • See edit; found a faster way. – Jeff Zeitlin Nov 15 '19 at 14:38

In Word 2016,in your table, right click the rows, Table Properties, Table tab, click on Borders and Shading, Custom Borders and then just set top and bottom. Works great

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you John, but I need also the border between the headers and the content. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:06
  • Custom borders can do that very neatly – John Nov 15 '19 at 14:21
  • Wonderful, but how? – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:23
  • Use your mouse to select row borders and to deselect column borders – John Nov 15 '19 at 14:24
  • 1
    Custom allows you to select top, bottom, and middle. If you need some middle but not all then two steps are most definitely required – John Nov 15 '19 at 14:53
  1. Select your header
    • in "home" tab - "paragraph" group - open the drop down next to table border icon and select "borders and shading"

enter image description here

  • remove vertical borders and horizontal one inside the table
    1. select your table's body and repeat the steps

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you Máté, this works I guess, but it tedious to repeat for all the tables in the thesis. – Michele Dorigatti Nov 15 '19 at 14:19
  • As far as I know Word doesn't have a concept of header row in tables like Excel, so I don't think there would be a much easier way. – Máté Juhász Nov 15 '19 at 14:21

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