In Word, tables are collections of horizontal rows and vertical columns organized into individual cells, in which you can place text, numbers, graphics, fields, or other elements. Traditionally, tables were used primarily to display numbers, but you can use Word tables for any task that requires information to be displayed in a structured fashion. Use tables to
Help build newsletters, brochures, and other "desktop published" pieces in which elements must be placed in specific locations on a page and kept there (see Chapter 16, "Word Desktop Publishing")
Structure and organize Web pages (see Chapter 24, "Using Word to Develop Web Content")
Write certain scripts that require audio/video directions to appear in one column with spoken narration in a second column (though this format is less common than it once was)
Build forms that can be filled out electronically or on paper (see Chapter 28, "Creating Forms")
Create the source data you will use in charts and graphs (see Chapter 15, "Visualizing Your Message with Graphs, Diagrams, and Org Charts")
Build databases that can be used for mail merging (see Chapter 17, "Using Mail Merge Effectively")
Nearly every task that you might once have used tabs for can be performed more easily and efficiently with tables. Only a few rare tasks, such as adding dot leaders between left- and right-aligned text, still call for tabs.
When you want a complex table to perform a complex task, Word provides exceptional power and flexibility. And when all you want is an old-fashioned row-and-column table for text or numbers, Word gets the job done quickly and simply.