Inconsistent Repeating of a Table Header Row

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 23, 2019)

2

Sometimes when creating a table in Word, Dick cannot make the top row repeat across all pages containing the table. He follows the normal procedure for setting up the repeating row, but the top row does not repeat at the top of succeeding pages. Dick wonders if there is a setting or condition that occasionally prevents the repeating row from working.

There are actually four things you need to check if your header rows aren't working as you expect them to work.

Check for Multiple Tables

Make sure that your long table is actually a single table. If it is not, then the header row won't repeat because the table doesn't really extend beyond a single page.

The easiest way to determine if you are working with a single table vs. multiple tables is to click somewhere within the table. Then, from the Layout tab of the ribbon, use the Select drop-down list to choose Table. The entire table should now be selected and if you use the mouse to scroll through the document, you should see that it is all selected. If it is not all selected, that is a sure-fire sign that you have multiple tables instead of just one.

Check the Text Wrapping Setting

It may sound odd, but the text wrapping setting for a table can affect its ability to repeat header rows. Text wrapping is used to wrap text around your table, and it appears that Word assumes such tables will be quite small. If your table is multiple pages, it obviously isn't small. Here's how you can check the text wrapping settings:

  1. Right-click your table and select Table Properties from the Context menu. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Table tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Table tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  4. In the Text Wrapping section choose None.
  5. Click OK to close the Table Properties dialog box.

Now you should be able to specify which rows in the table you want repeated.

Don't Set All Rows to be Header Rows

It is possible to set all rows in the table to be header rows, but if you do, Word will choke and not repeat any rows on secondary pages. You can check this by selecting the entire table and then, on the Layout tab of the ribbon, clear the Repeat Header Rows tool.

Don't Work with Nested Tables

You cannot apply repeating headers to a table that is nested inside another table. If you must use nested tables, you'll need to come up with a different way to "fake" your header rows rather than relying on Word's capabilities.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13703) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Easily Adding Blank Rows

Want to add a bunch of blank rows to a your data and have those rows interspersed among your existing rows? Here's a ...

Discover More

Pasting Leading Zeroes

Paste information into a worksheet, and you may be surprised to see leading zeroes disappear before your eyes. Here's how ...

Discover More

Using Automatic Substitution

Using a tool called Automatic Substitution, Docs can quickly correct things you may incorrectly type. Here's the lowdown ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Clearing the Contents of a Table

Want to get rid of information within a table, but not the table itself? Here's a guide to understanding the effects that ...

Discover More

Creating a Split Page

In WordPerfect terminology, a split page allows you to put information side-by-side on opposite halves of the page. If ...

Discover More

Jumping to the Ends of Table Columns

Need a quick shortcut to jump to the top or bottom of a table column? Here's the two shortcuts you are searching for.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one minus 0?

2020-03-16 09:14:40

Matthew Shute

Thanks Allen.

I've spent 20 minutes googling an answer to my problem. Your step 3 is the only correct solution I could find to my particular problem. I had the whole table selected and clicked on 'repeat header rows' and it all went wrong. I now know that the header row selected won't be just the top line of the table, it'll be whatever you have selected when you click on the button.


2019-11-23 09:24:46

Ken Cameron

Allen, OMG, this has bugged me for YEARS. I am so grateful for this tip. Keep 'em coming!


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.