Word 2013 & 2016 – Table ‘repeat header row’ not working

Formatting documents in Word can be extremely frustrating.

Often Word completely disregards the ‘repeat header row’ setting – leaving you with a table that just doesn’t behave.

Sometimes, no matter what options are selected the ‘Repeat as header row at top of each page’ option doesn’t work as expected, if at all.

The solution is simple, and quite baffling why it works where the other option does not.

  1. Select the table,
  2. at the top of the Window, under under ‘TABLE TOOLS’ open the ‘LAYOUT’ tab,
  3. click on the ‘Repeat Header Rows’ button.

For whatever reason, where the normal option fails to work this button some how fixes the table and makes the header row repeat across pages.

Help! What if this didn’t work!

Here’s a few tips if the above didn’t help.

Method 1: Text wrapping must be set to ‘None’

Repeatable headers DO NOT work with text wrapping enabled.

  1. Right click on your table and select ‘Table Properties’
  2. On the ‘Table’ tab set ‘Text Wrapping’ to ‘None’

Method 2: Page breaks must NOT be in table

If a page break is inside the table repeatable headers will not work.

To check for page breaks:

  1. Enable the display formatting option on the ‘Home’ tab, under ‘Paragraph’
  2. Look through the table for a page break and delete it, if there is one it will be at the bottom of the page (hence being a page break). You may also need to delete an empty line to join your table together again.

If you need the table to page break you will instead have to enable ‘Page break before’ on the table row. 

  1. Click on the row you want to start on the new page
  2. Then on the ‘Layout’ tab open the ‘Paragraph’ settings window (click on the little arrow icon next to ‘Paragraph’)
  3. On the ‘Line and Page Breakstab tick ‘Page break before’ and click ‘OK’ to save the changes

Method 3: Nested tables

Repeatable header rows will not work for nested tables, that is, a table inside a table – make sure you only have one table.


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24 comments on “Word 2013 & 2016 – Table ‘repeat header row’ not working

    1. Thank you! This was very helpful. I was able to fix the problem by changing my text wrapping to “none.” I really appreciate you providing this information. Very grateful!!!

  1. I was soooo hoping all of these great fixes would work. I’ve done them all with no success. 🙁 I have done them several times and have checked and triple-checked everything. I have table header set in both locations, the correct boxes checked/unchecked, to text wrapping, no page or section breaks and still no fix for me. I’m using Word 2016 and I just don’t get why it’s not working. 🙁 If anyone knows anything else I can do short of adding the rows manually on each page (which I don’t want to do) I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

    1. @ Terry: Look for the page break symbol. It will not say “Page Break”, but that sneaky little symbol ” ¶ ” may be hiding somewhere in the middle of your text. I had copied text over from another Word table, and some of the soft returns turned into these. Good luck!

  2. I am the same as Bronwen.
    It was the text wrapping. Cant remember setting it!
    It appeared that suddenly my Table header stopped repeating and I could not get it back. Doubly frustrating when you are on a deadline and you know it was working before.

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