In Word, tables can be problematic.  They should be used for tabular data, they are often used for page layout.  The top example below shows a table used for layout.  In this case, the Word autochecker will give you an error, and a screen reader user will have difficulty.  A screen reader sees row 1 as 5 cells merged into one and expects everything below it to also be one large merged cell.  Then it encounters row 2 and sees 1 cell and 4 cells merged into one.  To a computer, this does not compute.  What the computer wants is a header for each column with every row below that containing the same number of lined up columns.  If page layout like this is desired, using tabs for spacing may suffice.  The second example is how a table should be setup, with headers and the required information below it.  It is fine to use a table in a syllabus for listing readings and assignments.  Define the header row.  Don’t merge cells.  And it is fine to have empty cells.