Q: We have 170 hourly employees and, as part of my job, I prepare job assignment reports in Microsoft Word that contain several lists, sorted by name. As you can see in the attached example report, I use a three-column table in Word to list these names. The problem arises when I make small changes to these lists, such as deleting a name in column one. This forces me to readjust each subsequent column using the cut and paste commands multiple times. There has to be an easier way to do this, and I’ll bet you are going to suggest an Excel solution, but I don’t know how to use Excel. Is there an easier way to accomplish this in Word?
A: Your best solution might be to use Word’s Column tool to display multiple columns. The key to using the Column tool is to insert continuous section breaks before and after the columns to prevent the remainder of the Word document from also displaying multiple columns.
To use this feature, insert a section break where you want the columns to start, as follows: From the Page Layout tab, select Breaks, Continuous (under Section Breaks). Next, from the Page Layout tab, select Columns, Three. Thereafter, your three-column list of names flows seamlessly from one column to the next.
This allows you to insert or delete names anywhere in the list, and the columns adjust accordingly. Once you have completed this process, insert another section break at the end of your last column, then set the formatting back to a single column to prevent any text or data below from displaying a multiple column format, as follows: Position your cursor after the last column entry, then from the Page Layout tab, select Breaks, Continuous (under Section Breaks). With your cursor positioned after the second section break, from the Page Layout tab, select Columns, One. The results appear as follows:
Note: If necessary, you also can sort your Word list as follows: Highlight the list and, from the Home tab, click the Sort icon from the Paragraph group. You also can force a column break at any point in your list by positioning your cursor where you want the column break to occur and then, from the Page Layout tab, selecting Breaks, Column.
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