MS Word

Convert a Word Table to an Access Database

The Problem:

The genius who flew this desk before me created our sales database in a Word table. It's huge, it's ugly, and it doesn't exactly run like a gazelle. I'm not an Access expert, but I kinda suspect that using a database program might be a better choice than using a word processor. Unfortunately, that means it's up to me to shunt the Word table into Access.

The Solution:

Unless the table is really ugly, you can probably transfer its contents to Access without too many hairs going gray. Follow these general steps:

  1. Delete from the document any text that isn't in the table. (If this means major changes, use File » Save As to save a copy of the document under a different name, and then work on the copy.)

  2. Make sure the table has a heading row that identifies the fields. If not, add a heading row: click in the first row, choose Table » Insert » Rows Above, format the new row differently from the other rows (for example, make the text bold and larger), and type the field names in it.

  3. Check that no cell in the table contains two or more paragraphs. If any does, rearrange the table to eliminate the extra paragraphs. (For example, if an address cell contains two lines, you might split it into two separate cells.) The easiest way to check is to select the table (choose Table » Select » Table), press Ctrl+F, and search for ^p(the code for a paragraph mark).

  4. Click in the table, choose Table » Convert » Table to Text, select the Tabs option, and click the OK button.

  5. Choose File » Save As, select Text Only in the "Save as type" drop-down list, and save the document as a text file.

  6. Launch Access (or switch to it), open the database (or create a new database), right-click an empty space in the Tables list, and choose Import from the shortcut menu.

  7. Select Text Files in the "Files of type" drop-down list.

  8. Select the Word document you saved as a text file, click the OK button, and follow the steps in the Import Text Wizard.

Move Data from an Access Table to a Word Document

The Problem:

I need to use some data from an Access table in a Word document. I've tried selecting rows and then copying and pasting the data, but I don't usually want full rows, and Word seems to give me different formatting each time I paste data from Access, anyway.

The Solution:

For more consistent results, export the entire table in a format that Word can read easily, open the resulting file in Word, and copy the parts you need to your document.

To export from Access, open the table, choose File » Export and select the appropriate format in the "Save as type" drop-down list: Rich Text Format if you want all the formatting in the Access table, or Microsoft Word Merge if you want only the text without any formatting. The former creates an actual table in the document, while the latter creates tab-delimited text that you can easily convert back into a table using Word's Table » Convert » Text to Table command.

In Word, choose File » Open, select Rich Text Format or Text Files in the "Files of type" drop-down list, and then open the file you saved. Copy the appropriate parts of the table or text, and paste them into the Word document that needs them.