# How to create fixed width table columns with text raggedright/centered/raggedleft?

I would like to create a table with some columns' width specified, while the text in those columns should be centered both horizontally and vertically. I found out that

\usepackage{array}
\begin{tabular}{| c | c | m{5cm} |}


vertically centers the text in the last column, but justifies it horizontally (like text in normal paragraphs).

Update: With Jake's method, it seems both \\ and \hline cause an error. How to fix it?

A comprehensive solution (based on this answer) is to define new column types (say, L, C, and R) that take their width as argument and do the following:

• Issue \raggedright, \centering, or \raggedleft to achieve the desired horizontal alignment,

• Declare \let\newline\\ to allow to use \newline for manual line breaks within a cell (note that \centering & friends change the meaning of \\ -- this is the problem with Jake's solution),

• Issue \arraybackslash (i.e., \let\\\tabularnewline) to allow (again) to use \\ for ending rows,

• Issue \hspace{0pt} to allow the first word in a cell to be hyphenated.

In the example below, the new column types are based on (vertically centered) m-columns, but one may use (top- or bottom-aligned) p- or b-columns as well.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{array}
\newcolumntype{L}[1]{>{\raggedright\let\newline\\\arraybackslash\hspace{0pt}}m{#1}}
\newcolumntype{C}[1]{>{\centering\let\newline\\\arraybackslash\hspace{0pt}}m{#1}}
\newcolumntype{R}[1]{>{\raggedleft\let\newline\\\arraybackslash\hspace{0pt}}m{#1}}

\begin{document}

\begin{tabular}{| c | L{3cm} | C{3cm} | R{3cm} |}
foo &
A cell with text that wraps around, is raggedright and allows \newline
manual line breaks &
A cell with text that wraps around, is centered and allows \newline
manual line breaks &
A cell with text that wraps around, is raggedleft and allows \newline
manual line breaks \\
\end{tabular}

\end{document}


• Thanks, it works. In this way I don't have to add anything, just use "\\" and "\hline" as normally.
– Covi
Mar 5 '11 at 12:24
• For anybody's interest: There is an (error free) conflict with the pdfsync package, which corrupts the spacing. I took me a while to find this problem... Mar 14 '14 at 19:54
• One small problem with this solution is that columns using p get vertically centered when there are longer L columns. Mar 10 '16 at 17:57
• Please note that LCRJ column types are defined by the tabulary package. Just in case someone uses this excellent hint together with tabulary and wonders why some other tables break. Jul 9 '16 at 23:26
• for the other noobs reading this: you HAVE TO specify a width for each column of this new type. Otherwise, you get the usual 27 Latex errors that say absolutely nothing ;) Apr 26 '18 at 9:42

The 'm' column type only centers the text vertically; to get it also centered horizontally, you can use the >{cmd} syntax, which adds a command before each cell in the specified column:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{array}
\begin{document}
\begin{tabular}{| c | c | >{\centering}m{5cm} |}
Abc & Bcd & A long cell with text that wraps around and is centered
\end{tabular}
\end{document}


As Stefan Kottwitz pointed out in his comment, this can also be be wrapped in a new column type that you can define using

\newcolumntype{C}[1]{>{\centering}m{#1}}


Then you can define the above table using

begin{tabular}{| c | c | C{5cm} |}

• Works, but if there is a \\ \hline after the table row, this yields a misplaced \noalign error. According to this answer, \arraybackslash is required. Oct 15 '15 at 12:27
• How to add multiple rows to the table such that each cell is bordered by lines? Currently, only the columns are bordered by lines.
– Hans
Aug 15 '18 at 23:00
• @Hans - Use \hline to draw horizontal lines.
– Mico
Jan 24 at 9:47

I found a very different technique that also works:

With the package ragged2e you can issue the command \RaggedRight outside the tabular environment and get ragged right inside p- or m-columns of a tabular environment.

Here is an example document:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{array}
\usepackage{ragged2e}
\begin{document}
{\RaggedRight
\begin{tabular}{| c | m{3cm}}
foo &
A cell with text that wraps around, is raggedright and allows \newline
manual line breaks \\
\end{tabular}
}% end of \RaggedRight
\end{document}


• How to add multiple rows to the table such that each cell is bordered by lines? Currently, only the columns are bordered by lines.
– Hans
Aug 15 '18 at 23:12
• @Hans: As usual, using \hline between the table rows (delimited by \\) Aug 16 '18 at 15:06

It’s easy peasy to specify the horizontal and vertical alignment of table cells at the same time with tblr environment of the new LaTeX3 package tabularray:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{tabularray}
\begin{document}
\begin{tblr}{|Q[l,t,3cm]|Q[c,m,3cm]|Q[r,b,3cm]|}
\hline
{Top Baseline \\ Left Left} & Middle Center & {Right Right \\ Bottom Baseline} \\
\hline
\end{tblr}
\end{document}


You can even remove the width settings of the columns to use the natural widths.