Software

Office challenge: Can you continue numbering by column?

This week, test your Word skills by out-smarting Word's Numbering option to force numbering by column before by row.

You can number items in a table, by row or by column. Simply select the row or column and then click the Numbering option in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. As long as you're working with a single column or row, it's easy. To continue numbering across rows is also simple. Select the rows and click the Numbering option. It's even dynamic, allowing you to easily add or remove items. For instance, the table below numbers items in the first two columns, but not the third. Using the Numbering option, Word numbers the items in the first row and then continues with the first item in the second row, and so on.

What's more difficult is continuing a numbered list across columns. If you select more than one column, Word will number by row first and then column. How would you force Word to number by column first and then continue numbering beginning with the first item in the next column, as shown below?

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

7 comments
smileyface522
smileyface522

Drag across the first row of the table. Use the format painter to copy the numbering format to the other rows.

MargieC
MargieC

BTW the procedure I described also keeps you numbering format when you merge cells.

MargieC
MargieC

Highlight the table, then on the "home" tab, select the numbering format. Then, no matter if you add additional rows or columns, Word will keep the numbering sequence correctly.

michael_boardman
michael_boardman

If I understand the query correctly, this is easy enough to do. Apologies to Rick if this is what he intends. Set up a single-column table and remove the boundary lines, if required. Number the cells with Format> Bullets and Numbering as you normally would. Select the table and go to Format> Columns, and set up number of columns, width, space between etc as required. Hopefully, that accomplishes what Susan has in mind. If not, I look forward to the correct solution.

silverg50
silverg50

I guess this is why I use WordPerfect. It just does it. No complicated manuevering.

monkey2man
monkey2man

What worked for me was to create the table, highlight the first column, then click number. Separately, I highlighted the second column, then I clicked number. It numbered from 1 to n. As you add rows, the two columns add numbers at the bottom separately. When you're done adding rows, just highlight and right-click on the first number in the second column, then choose "Set numbering value...". Type in the n+1 where n is the number of rows. If you add rows later, you do have to renumber. Does anyone have a fix without that flaw?

Rick Caringer
Rick Caringer

...can be done by creating literal columns in the document and connecting the single column table accross column margins.