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Repeating Table Rows with Manual Page Breaks in Word

Summary: Do you have a table that extends more than a page in length? If so, you may be frustrated in making the table break where you want it to and having repeating rows at the top of each page. This tip examines ways you can get the tables to break properly, all while including the repeating rows as you need. (This tip works with Microsoft Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, and Word 2003.)

Word includes a great table editor that allows you to create and edit tables to present all sorts of information. You can format your tables so that a number of the rows will be repeated at the top of a page, if the table should happen to extend onto multiple pages. This allows you to designate certain rows as headers, and those rows will appear at the top of each page of the table. (Exactly how you format a table row to repeat at the top of each page has been discussed in other issues of WordTips.)

If you examine Word's Help system, it explains how to format your table so that some of the rows repeat. It also is very careful to explain that if you insert a manual page break in a table, so that you control where the table breaks between pages, the rows won't repeat any more. The reason is very simple--when you insert a manual page break, you are manually breaking the single table into two tables. Thus, the rows in the first table are independent of the rows in the second table. If the first table was actually extending to the second page, then the rows would repeat. But this is not the case; the first table is entirely on a single page, and the second table starts at the top of the second page, so no rows repeat.

The problem here is how, exactly, to get a single table (not two tables) to break across pages where you want it to break. If this can be done, then Word will take care of repeating the rows, as desired. There are a few ways you can accomplish this task.

One way to force page breaks in a table without using a manual page break is to insert a new row below the point of the desired break. While in Print Layout view, drag the bottom line of the table row so that it is nearly at the bottom of the page. This should force the next row onto the next page. If the new row goes onto the next page, shorten the row slightly until it ends the previous page. Then select the new row and choose Format | Borders and Shading. On the Borders tab (Click here to see a related figure.) remove the three vertical lines and the bottom line and set the Apply To drop-down list to Cell. After clicking OK, the new row should appear invisible, and your table appears to break as you want it.

Perhaps the most satisfactory solution is to use Word's paragraph formatting to determine where the table will break between pages. Identify the row that you want at the top of the new page, and then select that row. Choose Format | Paragraph to display the Paragraph dialog box. On the Line and Page Breaks tab (Click here to see a related figure.) , choose Page Break Before. What you've just done is to force Word to start all the paragraphs in the row at the top of a new page. Word automatically does this when you click OK, and the row now begins on the new page--with any repeated header rows that you specified for the table.

The above solution works great if you are doing the "final tweaks" on a table and simply want to specify where the breaks should occur. If you are still editing your table extensively by adding additional information to it, then the "Page Break Before" solution may not be the best because adding new table rows before the formatted row may result in Word extending your table across more pages than you really want. For instance, if you add a couple of rows before the formatted row, then you might end up with the first-page part of the table, a couple of rows on the second spill-over page, and then the balance of the table forced onto a third page because of the "Page Break Before" formatting. The solution is to make sure that you don't apply the "Page Break Before" formatting until you are just about done with the table.

If your only reason for applying "Page Break Before" formatting is to make sure that Word doesn't split a row so that part of it is on one page and part on the next, then a better solution is to follow these steps:

  1. Select all of the rows in your table.
  2. Choose Table Properties from the Table menu. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Row tab is selected. (Click here to see a related figure.)
  4. Clear the Allow Row to Break Across Pages check box.
  5. Click OK.

Now you have instructed Word to make sure that none of the rows in the table will straddle a page break. This may provide more satisfactory results if your only desire is to make sure that rows aren't split.

Topics: Repeating Table Rows with Manual Page Breaks

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