How to Apply Simple Table Formatting in Microsoft PowerPoint

Tables are a great way to present data and information clearly in a PowerPoint presentation. With just a few clicks, you can transform a basic table into an attractive, professional-looking element that enhances your slide deck.

Insert a Table

To insert a table in PowerPoint, go to the “Insert” tab and click the “Table” button. This will allow you to select the number of columns and rows you need.

You can also draw a table directly on a slide by selecting the “Draw Table” option. Click and drag to draw the table to the size you want on the slide.

Apply a Quick Table Style

Once your table is inserted, PowerPoint automatically applies a basic style. To quickly format it:

  1. Click inside the table to select it
  2. Go to the “Design” tab
  3. In the “Table Styles” section, select one of the preset styles

The table will instantly take on the formatting of that style.

Some popular choices are:

  • Light Style 1 – Subtle color shading
  • Medium Style 2 – Accent 1 – Bolder color shading
  • Dark Style 2 – Accent 5 – High contrast color shading

Use Table Tools to Custom Format

For more advanced formatting, use the Table Tools tabs that appear on the ribbon when you select a table.

On the “Design” tab, you can:

  • Change border styles, colors, and widths
  • Add shading or gradients to cells
  • Resize columns and rows

The “Layout” tab allows you to:

  • Insert, delete, merge, and split cells
  • Align text left, right, top, or bottom
  • Distribute rows and columns evenly

Change Text Direction

You can make a table more visually interesting by changing the text direction inside cells:

  1. Select the cells you want to edit
  2. On the “Layout” tab, click the “Text Direction” button
  3. Choose a direction like Top to Bottom or Rotate All Text 90°

Resize and Position Tables

To move a table, simply click and drag it to the desired location on the slide.

To resize:

  1. Click on the outer border of the table to select it
  2. Drag the sizing handles on the sides, corners, or top and bottom to adjust width and height

Best Practices for PowerPoint Tables

Follow these tips when working with tables for the best results:

  • Keep formatting simple – avoid cluttered designs
  • Use minimal, subtle borders
  • Include clear headings for rows and columns
  • Only use heavy formatting like bold or colored text to emphasize key data
  • Make sure tables are easy to read if converted to black and white for print

The key for great looking PowerPoint tables is keeping the design clean, simple and focused on readability. Avoid complex formatting that distracts from the actual data.

With practice, you’ll be able to create simple yet attractive tables to present information clearly and effectively.

Example Table Transformation

Let’s walk through a quick makeover of a basic table to an impressive data display:


The initial table has no formatting:


Apply Style

Select a premade style like Medium Style 2 – Accent 1:


Enhance Readability

Right align numerical data and bold the headers:


The table now pops on the slide and is easy to comprehend at a glance. Good PowerPoint table design is all about subtle tweaks for maximum impact.


The key takeaways for applying formatting to PowerPoint tables include:

  • Use the Table Styles gallery to instantly transform appearance
  • Customize design with Table Tools options
  • Focus on simple, readable formatting
  • Practice restraint to keep tables clean and clear

With a few quick clicks, you can now create tables that effectively display data to support your presentation’s message.