A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in with a question. He wanted to copy a Word table from one document to another, but when he did, the column spacing changed. So he wanted to know what he needed to do to keep tables from reformatting during a copy and paste.
You can do a number of things to keep tables consistent across documents. First, set the table so it's a fixed width in the Table Properties. The command is mildly different in the various versions of Word, but in Word 2003, you choose Table|Table Properties for example. In the Table Properties dialog box you find a check box for Preferred Width. By default, this setting is generally not checked, so click to add a checkmark next to it and set the size you want your table to be.
Another thing you may want to consider is the use of styles. If you copy and paste a table between two documents that do not use styles, all the text is set to the Normal style. In the new document, the font may change and cause the table to expand and resize to fit the content. Resizing the table to fit the content is another optional setting that's on by default. Back in the Table Properties dialog box, click the Options button and you'll see a check mark text to it. You want to remove that checkmark to keep the table from resizing.
Of course, if you have wildly different font settings in the two documents, you may run into problems. The best way to keep tables consistent across documents is to use the same styles for the text and to set the table width options.