3.1 The built-in table editor
Org makes it easy to format tables in plain ASCII. Any line with ‘|’ as
the first non-whitespace character is considered part of a table. ‘|’
is also the column separator1. A table
might look like this:
| Name | Phone | Age |
| Peter | 1234 | 17 |
| Anna | 4321 | 25 |
A table is re-aligned automatically each time you press <TAB> or
<RET> or C-c C-c inside the table. <TAB> also moves to
the next field (<RET> to the next row) and creates new table rows
at the end of the table or before horizontal lines. The indentation
of the table is set by the first line. Any line starting with
‘|-’ is considered as a horizontal separator line and will be
expanded on the next re-align to span the whole table width. So, to
create the above table, you would only type
and then press <TAB> to align the table and start filling in
fields. Even faster would be to type
|Name|Phone|Age followed by
When typing text into a field, Org treats <DEL>,
<Backspace>, and all character keys in a special way, so that
inserting and deleting avoids shifting other fields. Also, when
typing immediately after the cursor was moved into a new field
with <TAB>, S-<TAB> or <RET>, the
field is automatically made blank. If this behavior is too
unpredictable for you, configure the variables
- Creation and conversion
- C-c | (
Convert the active region to table. If every line contains at least one
TAB character, the function assumes that the material is tab separated.
If every line contains a comma, comma-separated values (CSV) are assumed.
If not, lines are split at whitespace into fields. You can use a prefix
argument to force a specific separator: C-u forces CSV, C-u
C-u forces TAB, and a numeric argument N indicates that at least N
consecutive spaces, or alternatively a TAB will be the separator.
If there is no active region, this command creates an empty Org
table. But it is easier just to start typing, like
|Name|Phone|Age <RET> |- <TAB>.
- Re-aligning and field motion
- C-c C-c (
Re-align the table without moving the cursor.
- <TAB> (
Re-align the table, move to the next field. Creates a new row if
- S-<TAB> (
Re-align, move to previous field.
- <RET> (
Re-align the table and move down to next row. Creates a new row if
necessary. At the beginning or end of a line, <RET> still does
NEWLINE, so it can be used to split a table.
- M-a (
Move to beginning of the current table field, or on to the previous field.
- M-e (
Move to end of the current table field, or on to the next field.
- Column and row editing
- M-<left> (
- M-<right> (
Move the current column left/right.
- M-S-<left> (
Kill the current column.
- M-S-<right> (
Insert a new column to the left of the cursor position.
- M-<up> (
- M-<down> (
Move the current row up/down.
- M-S-<up> (
Kill the current row or horizontal line.
- M-S-<down> (
Insert a new row above the current row. With a prefix argument, the line is
created below the current one.
- C-c - (
Insert a horizontal line below current row. With a prefix argument, the line
is created above the current line.
- C-c <RET> (
Insert a horizontal line below current row, and move the cursor into the row
below that line.
- C-c ^ (
Sort the table lines in the region. The position of point indicates the
column to be used for sorting, and the range of lines is the range
between the nearest horizontal separator lines, or the entire table. If
point is before the first column, you will be prompted for the sorting
column. If there is an active region, the mark specifies the first line
and the sorting column, while point should be in the last line to be
included into the sorting. The command prompts for the sorting type
(alphabetically, numerically, or by time). When called with a prefix
argument, alphabetic sorting will be case-sensitive.
- C-c C-x M-w (
Copy a rectangular region from a table to a special clipboard. Point and
mark determine edge fields of the rectangle. If there is no active region,
copy just the current field. The process ignores horizontal separator lines.
- C-c C-x C-w (
Copy a rectangular region from a table to a special clipboard, and
blank all fields in the rectangle. So this is the “cut” operation.
- C-c C-x C-y (
Paste a rectangular region into a table.
The upper left corner ends up in the current field. All involved fields
will be overwritten. If the rectangle does not fit into the present table,
the table is enlarged as needed. The process ignores horizontal separator
- M-<RET> (
Split the current field at the cursor position and move the rest to the line
below. If there is an active region, and both point and mark are in the same
column, the text in the column is wrapped to minimum width for the given
number of lines. A numeric prefix argument may be used to change the number
of desired lines. If there is no region, but you specify a prefix argument,
the current field is made blank, and the content is appended to the field
- C-c + (
Sum the numbers in the current column, or in the rectangle defined by
the active region. The result is shown in the echo area and can
be inserted with C-y.
- S-<RET> (
When current field is empty, copy from first non-empty field above. When not
empty, copy current field down to next row and move cursor along with it.
Depending on the variable
org-table-copy-increment, integer field
values will be incremented during copy. Integers that are too large will not
be incremented. Also, a
0 prefix argument temporarily disables the
increment. This key is also used by shift-selection and related modes
- C-c ` (
Edit the current field in a separate window. This is useful for fields that
are not fully visible (see Column width and alignment). When called with
a C-u prefix, just make the full field visible, so that it can be
edited in place. When called with two C-u prefixes, make the editor
window follow the cursor through the table and always show the current
field. The follow mode exits automatically when the cursor leaves the table,
or when you repeat this command with C-u C-u C-c `.
- M-x org-table-import
- Import a file as a table. The table should be TAB or whitespace
separated. Use, for example, to import a spreadsheet table or data
from a database, because these programs generally can write
TAB-separated text files. This command works by inserting the file into
the buffer and then converting the region to a table. Any prefix
argument is passed on to the converter, which uses it to determine the
- C-c | (
Tables can also be imported by pasting tabular text into the Org
buffer, selecting the pasted text with C-x C-x and then using the
C-c | command (see above under Creation and conversion).
- M-x org-table-export
- Export the table, by default as a TAB-separated file. Use for data
exchange with, for example, spreadsheet or database programs. The format
used to export the file can be configured in the variable
org-table-export-default-format. You may also use properties
TABLE_EXPORT_FORMAT to specify the file
name and the format for table export in a subtree. Org supports quite
general formats for exported tables. The exporter format is the same as the
format used by Orgtbl radio tables, see Translator functions, for a
If you don't like the automatic table editor because it gets in your
way on lines which you would like to start with ‘|’, you can turn
it off with
(setq org-enable-table-editor nil)
Then the only table command that still works is
C-c C-c to do a manual re-align.