Displaying a Column Number

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 6, 2017)


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
        ' There is no previous header
    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 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.

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, and 2013.

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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What is 5 + 9?

2017-01-06 11:44:35

Aprile Morgan

If all the document contained were the columns, couldn't she put in a heading with styles to auto number? She would just have to line them up so they match three columns. Not sure this would work but worth a try.

2013-12-09 08:56:50

Jim Swindle

Keith - Think of a macro as a script that automates something you want to do over and over. For an overview, in Word click the ? button. Then type
record macro
and click Search. You'll find information about recording or running or writing a macro.

2013-12-08 15:08:54


I do not understand the word "macro" so could not make use of this tip. I would like to know how many others are in the same boat,

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