Creating a header row in a table (Word 2007)

October 12, 2009 at 10:41 am

Because of the potential for confusion, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out the difference between the “Header Row” button on Word 2007′s Table Tools Design tab and the “Repeat Header Rows” button on the Table Tools Layout tab.

For most people, the term “header row” conjures the first row of a multi-page table containing text that repeats at the top of every page. In the legal field, a typical example is a row at the top of a Separate Statement of Disputed and Undisputed Material Facts. A cell on the left is labeled “Material Facts” (or similar wording) and a cell on the right is labeled “Supporting Evidence” (or similar wording). Ideally, these labels should appear at the top of each page.

To create this type of header row, position the cursor in the first row of a table, then do one of two things:

Navigate to the Table Tools Layout tab and click the “Repeat Header Rows” button at the right side of the tab, or

Also in the Table Tools Layout tab, locate the Table group at the left side of the tab and click the “Properties” button. When the Table Properties dialog opens, click the “Row” tab, click to check the “Repeat the header row at the top of each page” box, then click OK.

Either method will accomplish the intended result: Any text you type in the first row of the table will be repeated at the top of successive pages (assuming the table takes up more than one full page). You can edit the text to your heart’s content, although to do so you must position your cursor in the very first row of the table. Attempting to edit text in one of the “repeat” header rows will prove to be an exercise in frustration (much like trying to put lipstick on an image in the mirror, rather than on the face of the person standing in front of the mirror).

Now, what about that “Header Row” button on the Table Tools Design tab?

Note that the button is in the “Table Style Options” group (and keep in mind that it is, after all, on the “Design” tab). That fact signals that the command affects not the content of the row, but its appearance. Should you choose to apply shading to alternate rows of the table by clicking one of the samples in the Table Styles group — and, if you do, be sure to scroll down to get a sense of the various choices available in the styles gallery — the appearance of the first row changes depending on whether “Header Row” is checked or unchecked. Experiment a bit to see how it works.

As long as you remember that the button on the “Design” tab alters the graphic look of the table and the button on the “Layout” tab lets you format your text the way you want, you should be able to create header rows with relative ease.

One more brief warning about another confusing set of buttons: The “View Gridlines” button in the Table Tools Layout tab (and at the bottom of the Borders drop-down in the Table Tools Design tab) is exactly what it appears to be: a toggle for displaying or hiding the non-printing table outlines that help you find your way around a table when you have removed one or more of the printable borders. Don’t confuse those very helpful buttons with the misleading one on the View tab (Show/Hide group) that is labeled simply “Gridlines.” That command has nothing to do with tables. Indeed, it toggles the display of drawing gridlines, something I don’t remember being so easy to trigger by accident in previous versions of Word. If you inadvertently click that button in an attempt to show table gridlines, just click it again to hide the drawing gridlines and make your way to the Table Tools Layout tab instead.

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