Office solution: How to continue numbering from one table column to another

This week, learn the solution to the challenge: Can you continue numbering by column? Hint: It's not intuitive.

Last week, I asked you for a solution that forces columnar numbering in a Word table. Word numbers by row first, as shown below; it numbers the first two cells in the first row before dropping down to the next row to continue numbering.

Jobermeyer1960 was the first to share the technique I ended up using:

  1. Highlight the first column (only one column) and click the Numbering option in the Font group on the Home tab (on the Formatting toolbar in Word 2003). Word will number the items in columnar order.
  2. Click the second column and click the Numbering option. Word will assign the same set of numbers to the second column.
  3. Right-click the number in the first row of the second column and choose Set Numbering Value.
  4. In the resulting dialog, click the Continue From Previous List option and then check the Advance Value option and enter the next number in the sequence. In this example, the last number in the previous column is 3, so enter 4, and click OK.

This route will get you the results you want, but it isn't dynamic. Number the columns when the table is completely done to avoid resetting options. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to me and I can't help but think there's a better solution than this clunky one.

Most of you seemed to miss the requirement that you had to number down the column and then continue numbering with the first cell in the second column-in snaking fashion. I apologize if I didn't make that request clear! Thanks for another great challenge everyone!

About Susan Harkins

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.

Editor's Picks