In Microsoft Word, tabs work fine for indenting paragraphs and other small tasks.  But if you want to display rows and columns of information in the middle of a document, tables will save you a lot of headaches.  A simple example would be an office telephone directory:

Mahon, Stewart 770-555-8700 770-555-8712
Weatherford, Margie 770-555-8701 770-555-8713

To insert a table, click on the Insert tab on the ribbon.  Use your mouse to select the number of rows and columns you want in your table or click on Insert Table to manually set the table’s properties.  In Word 2003 or older you can use the Insert Table button on the toolbar or use the Table menu.  If you need a long table, don’t worry about the number of rows.  If you press tab from the last cell in a table, a new row will be added.

The table will be inserted with all the columns evenly spaced.  If you put your mouse over one of the vertical lines, you will get a double headed arrow and you can drag the line left or right to adjust the columns widths.  If you select a cell first, you can change just that cell’s width instead of the whole column.  You can adjust row heights, but you usually don’t need to because rows automatically adjust to fit whatever text you enter.

To remove or change the borders, right click anywhere in the table and choose Table Properties.  On the Tables tab click the Borders And Shading button.  If you remove the borders you will still see blue dotted lines showing where the table is.  Those lines won’t print, they only show on screen.  But if you would like to hide them click the Layout tab while your cursor is in the table.  Then you can use the View Gridlines button in the ribbon to turn the gridlines off or back on.

Other formatting options like shading, alignment or merging cells work basically like they do in Excel.  So you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the table to look the way you want.

The tab key will move you from cell to cell within the table.  But you can still use tabs inside a cell by using Ctrl+Tab.  And if you need to you can even insert a table within a cell of an existing table.