Inputting Tables


By the end of the chapter you will be able to:

  • create tables from scratch
  • merge cells
  • caption tables
  • use plugins

Creating tables

Tables are created using the tabular environment:

\begin{tabular}[postion]{text justification}

The position option controls where the table appears on the page; b for bottom, c for center (default) and t for top. The text justifcation is declared seperately for each column. | can also be used to create vertical lines between columns. So to begin a table of 3 columns with the first column left justified, the others centered and vertical lines between columns, we use:


To enter data into the table we seperate each entry with & and end each line with \\. Finally to put in horizontal lines we use \hline. Putting all this together creates a table like this:

Name & Class & Score \\ \hline \hline
Simon & Newton & 52 \\ \hline
Jess & Curie & 90 \\ \hline \hline

Justification Explanation
l Left justified cell contents
c Centered cell contents
r Right justified cell contents
p{width} Paragraph with text at the top of the cell
m{width} Paragraph with text in the middle of the cell (requires array package)
p{width} Paragraph with text at the bottom of the cell (requires array package)

Simple table

Merging cells

To span multiple columns we use:

\multicolumn{no.of columns to span}{justification}{cell contents}

So to span two columns with center justified text:


To span multiple rows add \usepackage{multirow} to the preamble, then use:

\multirow{no. of rows to span}{width}{cell contents}

The width can be set to the natural width of the rows being spanned using *. So to span 4 rows we can use:


Putting these two together means that we can create much more complicated tables. In the example to the right \cline{2-3} creates a horizontal line that only spans columns 2 to 3.

Activity - Create a table in one of your chapter files.

Merge cells example

\begin{tabular}{|l|c|c|} \hline
\multicolumn{3}{|c|}{School of Physics} \\ \hline
Class & Name & Score \\ \hline
\multirow {3}{*}{Newton} 
& A.Simpson & 72 \\ \cline{2-3}
& J.Smith & 90 \\ \cline{2-3}
& T.Johnson & 63 \\ \hline

Merge cells example

Captioning Tables

To caption tables the tabular environment needs to be placed inside the table environment. This also ensures that the table appears in the List of tables at the beginning of the document. See the example.

\begin{table}[h]\caption{Scores of the Classes}
\begin{tabular}{|l|c|c|} \hline 
Name & Class & Score \\ \hline \hline
Simon & Newton & 52 \\ \hline
Jess & Curie & 90 \\ \hline 

Remember that caption can have a short title for the List of Tables (in []) and a longer description for the page. In this example the caption will appear above the table. To make it appear below the table put the caption below the label.

Activity - Give your table a caption and check that it appears in the List of Tables.

Captioning tables

Using Plugins

Some tables are quite complex and you may not wish to type them out yourself. You can download a plugin for your spreadsheet which will create the LaTeX code for you or you can use an online table generator that will write the code as you create the table.

If these files are large you do not need to copy and paste them into your chapter file. You can save them as a .tex file and then use \input{} to load the table tex file into your chapter file. Remember to save the table file in the same directory as the chapter file and compile the main document, not the chapter file.

The table on the right shows the various plugins available. Clicking on the plugin name will take you to the appropriate website where you need to follow the installation instructions.

Plugin Spreadsheet
Calc2LaTeX Open Office
excel2LaTeX Excel
matrix2LaTeX Matlab and Python code
latex-tools Ruby code
xtable R
For emacs Emacs