Displaying a Column Number

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 31, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Deena has a document that is formatted to use three columns. She would like a way to display and print, automatically, a column number at the top of each column. Thus, the columns on page 1 would be numbered 1 through 3, those on page 2 would be 4 through 6, etc.

There is no way to do this automatically, but a workaround is to create a macro that will print the document with column numbers in the page header. All you need to do is make sure that the header has tab stops set to match where you want the column numbers to appear.

Sub ColumnHeaders()
    Dim p As Long
    Dim tp As Long
    Dim c As Integer
    Dim tc As Integer
    Dim h As String
    Dim ch As String

    ' Get total pages
    tp = ActiveDocument.Content.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticPages)
    ' Get number of columns
    tc = ActiveDocument.Sections(1).PageSetup.TextColumns.Count
    ' Save current header
    ch = ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).Range.Text

    For p = 1 To tp
        h = ""
        For c = 1 To tc
            h = h & Trim(Str(p + (c - 1) + (2 * p - 2))) & vbTab
        Next c
        h = Left(h, Len(h) - 1)
        ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).Range.Text = h
        ActiveDocument.PrintOut Range:=wdPrintFromTo, _
          From:=Trim(Str(p)), To:=Trim(Str(p))
    Next p
    
    If Len(ch) > 1 Then
        ' Restore previous header
        ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).Range.Text = ch
    Else
        ' There is no previous header
        ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).Range.Delete
    End If
End Sub

The macro actually prints out each page of the document individually. It assumes there is only a single section in the document. The number of columns for that single section is determined, and then this count is used in putting together the header for each page. The header consists of the column numbers separated by tabs. The header is constructed for each page, and then each page is printed.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12826) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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