Controlling Table Breaks and Table Headers

Even after you create, edit, and format your table, you may need to take more control over it, and Word offers various techniques for taking that control. For example, you can

  • Split one table into two

  • Control where page breaks appear within tables

  • Set a header that appears on every page of your table, even though you entered it in your document only once

  • Resize all the rows and columns in a table instantly

In the next few sections, you learn these techniques, which give you more control over your tables than you've ever had before.

Using Split Table to Add Space Above or Between Tables

What if you need to split a table in order to place a paragraph of text between the top and bottom of the table? Use Word's Split Table feature. Click in the row you want to become the first row of the second table. Then choose Table, Split Table. Word divides the table into two tables and places the insertion point in a paragraph that appears between the two new tables.


Occasionally, you'll set up your entire table at the top of the page and then realize that you need to add text before the table. You can't move your insertion point in front of the table. Even moving to the beginning of the document (Ctrl+Home) doesn't do it. Word's Split Table feature solves the problem. Click in the upper-left cell of the table and choose Table, Split Table. Word adds a paragraph mark above the table and places the insertion point in that paragraph.

Another way to add space before a table at the beginning of a document is to click the insertion point in the first cell and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Specifying Recurring Headers

What happens when you have a table that continues for several pages, and you want each page to share the same headings? Use Word's Heading Rows Repeat feature.

This feature allows you to specify a heading row (or rows) that will appear on every page the table appears on. In other words, if a table jumps to a second page, the header rows will appear at the top of the second page; if the table continues on third pages, or beyond, the same header row(s) will appear at the top of those pages as well.

The heading row (or rows) you use must include the first row of the table. To create a repeating heading row, select the row you want to include in the repeating headers and choose Table, Heading Rows Repeat. Alternatively, you can work from the Table Properties dialog box. Choose Table, Table Properties (or right-click on the table and choose Table Properties from the shortcut menu). Click the Row tab; then check the Repeat as Header Row at the Top of Each Page check box.

Preventing Rows from Breaking Across Pages

Table rows can easily break across pages, leaving hard-to-understand text (or blank space) on the following page. Such "widow" and "orphan" lines can be difficult for readers to understand, especially if you haven't bordered the cells in your table. Fortunately, you can select specific rows (or an entire table) and tell Word to keep them on the same page. When you do so, Word will either squeeze all the rows you selected onto the previous page or move all of them together, to the top of the following page.

Right-click on the row you want to remain intact on one page. (Or, if you prefer, select several rows or the entire table and then right-click.) Next, choose Table Properties from the shortcut menu and click the Row tab. Clear the Allow Row to Break Across Pages check box and click OK.

Now, if one of the rows you selected does not fit entirely on the first page, Word jumps all the contents of that row onto the next page.


The procedure previously described allows you to keep the contents of a single row together on the same page. But what if you want to make sure several rows stay together on the same page? Use Word's Paragraph controls:

  1. Select the contents of the rows you want to keep together.

  2. Choose Format, Paragraph.

  3. Choose the Line and Page Breaks tab.

  4. Check Keep with Next.

  5. Click OK.


If you don't mind breaking a table into two tables, you can separate the tables by inserting a manual page break (Ctrl+Enter) at the end of the row after which you want the break to be inserted.

The disadvantage: You can no longer use table selection, formatting, Header Rows Repeat, or sorting tools that assume you're working within a single table.

Resizing Your Table Automatically

Often, you want to resize a table to fit a predefined space on a page. In some earlier versions of Word, this required manual resizing of individual rows and columns. In Word, you can resize every row and column in a single motion.

Hover your mouse pointer over the table you want to resize. At the lower-right corner of the table, a resizing handle appears. Drag the resizing icon until your table is the correct size. As you drag the icon, all column widths and row heights automatically adjust proportionally to the new size of the overall table (see Figure 12.22). Text within the table automatically rewraps to reflect the new column widths and row heights. The text, however, does not resize itself.

Figure 12.22. Dragging the table resize handle to resize a table.



If Word is resizing your table when you don't want it to, see "What to Do If Word Resizes Cells Inappropriately," in the "Troubleshooting" section of this chapter.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word