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Stop table rows in Microsoft Word from splitting across pages

Tables in Microsoft Word are great, but the default settings for tables are sometimes not what you want. In particular, Word will split individual rows across two pages if it needs to. If you'd rather have Word break tables up between pages so that each row is kept intact and not split across two pages (i.e. force Word to insert a page break before the row rather than in the middle of the row), this lesson will show you how to do it.

Note that this lesson covers Microsoft Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 for Windows, and Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac.

Tell Microsoft Word not to split table rows across pages

This lesson assumes you have already created a table that spans two or more pages (or will do by the time you've finished creating it). Once you've done this, follow these steps:

  • Select the whole table you are working on. By doing this, Word will apply the setting to all rows in the table, including rows you add later.
  • Click the icon with four arrows to the top left of the table as shown below. This will select the whole table. It can be a little tricky to get it first time, but persevere!
    Selecting a whole table in Microsoft Word at once
  • Once you've selected the whole table, right-click anywhere inside the table and choose Table Properties:
    Selecting Table Properties for a table in Microsoft Word
  • In the Table Properties dialog, choose the Row tab. Check that the dialog says Rows 1-x (where x is the number of rows in your table). In the example below the table being edited has 44 rows.
    Setting the Row properties for an entire table in Microsoft Word
  • Deselect the option to Allow rows to break across pages. This will apply to all 44 rows in my example table.
  • Click OK.

Word will automatically repaginate the document to split the table so that each row is kept intact.

  • This means that a row which was previously split between two pages will move onto the following page.
  • Note that you can also use this technique to format just one row in your table. Simply right-click in the row inside the table that you want to stop from splitting across pages and follow the steps above.

Make your row settings the default for all future tables (the quick way)

Whilst the techniques described are useful, it's a nuisance to have to set these options every time you create a new table in a document. In this section, we'll look at how to make these settings the defaults.

  • First, click somewhere in one of your tables. The ribbon toolbar should change to look like the following:
    Microsoft Word table design toolbar
  • Notice that there are a number of different table styles available to you. We are going to focus on the defaults for the first style shown.
  • Next, right-click on the first button on the toolbar and choose Set as Default:

    Microsoft Word - set the current table style as the default

  • You will then see the following dialog box:
    Microsoft Word - option box to set the default table style for all documents or just this one
  • Change the option to All documents based on the Normal template, and then click OK>

At this point, you have now changed the table settings to match the settings of the current table; you should test it with a new document to ensure that the settings have indeed been set as the default.

Make your row settings the default for all future tables (more options)

It may be that you want more control over how the defaults are set for your tables. The following steps allow you control everything about your default table settings.

  • Instead of choosing the Set as Default option as shown above, right-click on the first button on the toolbar and choose Modify Table Style instead:

    Microsoft Word, modify table style dropdown from table design toolbar

  • This will display the following dialog box:
    Microsoft Word - dialog box for modifying table styles.
  • A couple of things to note in the picture above:
    • The option to Apply formatting to is set to Whole Table. This is what we want for this example, but you can experiment with the options here to format different parts of the table in different ways.
    • The option "Only this document" is selected. Change this to "New documents based on this template". This will ensure that any changes we make here will be applied to all tables from now on.
  • Next, click the Format button and choose Table Properties as shown here. Note the other options you can set for your table, e.g. banding - this is covered in our lesson Set banding colors in Word 2010 table styles:
    Microsoft Word - Format menu with the Table properties field selected
  • The Table Properties dialog will be displayed. It will be familiar to you since it's the same dialog that we used earlier in the lesson to stop rows breaking across pages, and to set the first row to repeat at the top of each page in the table:
    Microsoft Word table properties, with the Row tab selected to allow row breaking and repeating options to be set
  • You can now set the two options to what you want and then click OK. This will return you to the Modify Styles dialog. Click OK again to return to your document.
  • Check that your table defaults have been set. Make sure you test by creating a new table in the current document AND a new table in a new document.

If you have any feedback on this lesson on stopping rows from breaking across pages, or you have a question about what was covered in this lesson, please leave us a comment below.