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Heading Changes for Multi-page 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: Heading Changes for Multi-page Tables.

Craig has numerous tables in a document that extend over two or more pages. Word allows for repeating rows to act as headers, but Craig would like to have headers on pages after the first page have the word "Continued" or some other indication in the table name. For example, the first row has the table name "Table 3: Site Locations Sampled" and the second row would have the column titles. When the table is split between pages, Craig would like it to say "Table 3 continued: Site Locations Sampled" or something similar.

There is no way to do this easily in Word. The reason is that Word views repeating table heads as "static" and beyond change. Even if you try to add a conditional field in the heading (one that compares the current page number to the first page and then changes results accordingly), Word basically ignores the field. Why? Because repeating table headings appear to completely ignore pagination in a document.

One workaround is to "fudge" your headings in the following manner:

  1. Create the text of your heading, making sure to include the word "continued" at the end of the heading. For instance, "Table 3: Site Locations Sampled (continued)."
  2. Add a textbox or rectangle to the document, making sure that the object is anchored to the paragraph immediately before the table. (Don't anchor it to the table itself.) Be sure to lock the anchor in place.
  3. Make sure the textbox or rectangle is opaque and filled with a color that matches whatever background you may have in your heading row. Also make sure that there are no borders on the object.
  4. Drag the textbox or rectangle so that it covers the word (continued) in the heading. The word should not be visible, and the textbox or rectangle should blend into the background of the heading. (You may need to adjust the size of the textbox or rectangle so that it covers only the word itself without extending outside the heading area.)
  5. Work with your table as normal.

As your table grows, the heading will appear on the secondary pages, including the "continued" notation. It doesn't appear on the first page because it is obscured by the textbox or rectangle. The textbox or rectangle doesn't appear on secondary pages because it is anchored not to the heading, but to the paragraph just before the table.

This workaround works properly only if you have the "continued" wording at the end of the heading. If you have it in the middle of the heading (as in "Table 3 continued: Site Locations Sampled"), then covering the word "continued" would leave a gap on the first page's table heading—probably something you don't want.

Another option that will work—particularly if your document largely consists of only the table—is to put the table heading into the actual page header, and make sure that there is no page header for the first page. This may take some experimenting to make sure that the page heading and the table columns line up properly and that there are no gaps, but it could work if your table heading needs are not terribly complex.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (410) 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: Heading Changes for Multi-page Tables.

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Comments for this tip:

Linda    22 Jun 2012, 15:50
Be careful with this approach. Depending on how you print your document, text boxes can shift. Just a little shift and the covered text shows. Plus, if you need to center your header text, then your first header won't be centered. And finally, depending on how people view the document, layered text boxes flash and sometimes reveal the covered text. Highly unprofessional, unfortunately. I really wish there was a better workaround.

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