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Line Numbering and Tables

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Line Numbering and Tables.

Word includes a feature that allows you to number all the lines in a document. Certain information, however, is not numbered as a matter of course. For instance, graphics are not numbered, and neither is information within text boxes. Word also doesn't number footnotes or endnotes, or information within tables.

It is this last item—tables—that may cause a problem for some documents. Tables are widely used to organize and present information on a page. Many people use tables for positioning regular text, not just tabular material. If you use a lot of tables in your documents, particularly to present regular text, then you may be eliminating the utility of line numbers within the document.

The obvious solution to text within tables not having line numbers is to take the text out of the tables. This is not as frivolous a suggestion as it may seem; if you are using tables to simply organize two columns of data, you can often organize the information using regular text with tabs defining your columns. More complex tabular information can also be formatted using more creative approaches that don't require tables. (The exact approach depends on the type of information and how you want it presented.)

If converting your tables to regular text equivalents is not an option, your options are limited. There are no switches or settings you can use to force line numbers in tables. You could, however, utilize the approach that Microsoft has used in some of their document wizards—create a text box that is included in the header of each page. The text box would extend the length of the page and have a series of SEQ fields in it that would "simulate" line numbers. All you need to do is make sure that the line heights used in the text box exactly match the line heights used in the main document, including the line heights used in the tables. Obviously this approach would take some trial-and-error testing to make sure you get the desired results.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (278) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Line Numbering and Tables.

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