In Writer, how do I expand one column in a table without shrinking the other columns?

New to Libre Writer (because I cannot stand Microsoft).
I have searched for an answer without success. An answer from 6 years ago, in 2017, suggests a problem (no way to do it), but hopefully there has been an upgrade since then.

Simply put: I want to expand one column in a table without shrinking the other columns.
Yes, by logical implication, this means the whole table will get wider.
The single act of increasing one column’s width should be enough to cause that obvious result.

But Libre Writer “fights me” all the way. Am I supposed to “do the math” myself and expand the whole table by the specific micro-inches on the Table-Tab, and then go to the Column-Tab, and then input that same number for the column-width increase? I can’t imagine it is this hard, repetitive or convoluted.

Is there some combination of check-boxes, spread across the two Tabs (table and columns) that lets me just make the intended change in one step? So far, I just can’t figure it out, at least not without back-and-forth actions and multiple changes to make a single column wider.

Please explain in detail, recognizing that I am new to Libre Office. As much as I disklike Microsoft Word, at least their table-columns work in a way that is intuitive.

In the Table > Size menu there are two automated ways of sizing column widths that might apply:

  1. Optimal column width works best if you select the full, completed table
  2. Distribute columns evenly set the width of the table then select all the columns, or just those columns you want to even up, and apply the setting

Set the cursor into a cell in the column you want to change. Press Alt+Right/Left arrow. Only this column width is changed and the table becomes wider (if possible) or smaller.

You can change the behavior of such key-combination in Tools>Options>Writer>Table.

Look for “Shortcut Keys for Tables in LibreOfficeDev Writer” in the help.


Ah, a big “thank you” to Regina. Exactly what I needed (and, if this was in the documentation, I missed it). I was trying to use the dialog-box for Table Properties and getting nowhere. Thanks again.

Resizing Rows and Columns in a Text Table

Modifying Rows and Columns by Keyboard

I will describe one method of designing a table with columns of various widths assuming that your window looks like mine.

Click on the Insert Table icon in the Standard toolbar. In the grid that appears, draw the mouse pointer down and to the right to determine the number of rows and columns you want in your table. This can later be changed. When you release the mouse button a table will appear in your document. By default, the table will span from the left margin to the right and the columns will be of equal size.

The Table toolbar should appear below the Workspace. Click on the Table Properties icon at the right of this toolbar.

In the Table tab, select one of the Alignment options other than Automatic. Set the Width of the table. This is the total of all columns. Set this to less than the distance between columns.

Go to the Columns tab. Initially, all columns will have the same width. You should see a line saying Remaining space. Select the box beside Adapt table width. You can now expand any column up to this amount without reducing the size of any other the other columns.

Example for a document with 6.50" between margins:

Create a table of four columns and three rows.

Click on the Table Properties icon in the Table toolbar.

Go to the Table tab.

Change alignment to Left.

Change Width to 4.00".

Go to the Columns tab.

Each column should be 1.00" wide.

Remaining space should be 2.50".

Check the box beside Adapt table width.

Change the width of the second column to 3.50".

All of the other columns should remain at 1.00".

Click OK.

This answer works OK, but is somewhat more involved, so I upvoted the shorter, more direct approach. I tried checking/unchecking “adapt table width” myself at first, but because that label is so vague, I really couldn’t tell what that checkbox was designed to accomplish. Something of a design flaw, in my view, but I appreciate the guidance on how to do this.