# Formatting text in a cell into columns doesn't save

I have a table in a docx document, in one of the cells I formatted the text into columns. I pressed save and the indicator of unsaved changes went away indicating it was successfully saved, I closed then reopened the document and the columns were undone. Anything I can do to troubleshoot this? Has this issue been reported?

It doesn't seem to happen with odt.

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"in one of the cells I formatted the txt into columns"

What did you do?

( 2020-06-25 05:59:56 +0200 )edit

Did you Insert | Section into a table cell? Don't do that.

It is a table so if you want to split a cell then right-click and select Split Cell then choose how many you want and vertical or horizontal then OK.

( 2020-06-25 06:13:41 +0200 )edit

Nope, just had a bulleted list in a table 2 columns wide, select all in that cell, format -> columns, and chose 4 columns. I didn't split the cell, it remained 1 cell with the text columns in it.

( 2020-06-25 06:34:22 +0200 )edit

Same thing, you've got a container for part of a page and you're trying to put it inside something that belongs inside the container. It is like trying to put a milk crate into a milk bottle.

You could select your bulleted list click Table | Convert | Text to Table and OK out

( 2020-06-25 07:16:35 +0200 )edit

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Earnest Al commented

Did you Insert | Section into a table cell? Don't do that.

keegan responded

Nope, just had a bulleted list in a table 2 columns wide, select all in that cell, format -> columns,

@keegan: FYI, If you format content inside a cell into multiple text columns, the software implements this by automatically inserting a columned section inside the cell. So, even though you did not consciously and willingly insert a section, it happened anyway.
@Earnest Al: This section-inside-table setup works fine in Writer, and while unusual, there are contexts where it makes sense. I'd rather use a frame, mostly because it allows greater freedom to design your layout, but using a table instead will often relieve you of a bit of clutter.

@keegan: As far as I have determined, MS Word does not support sections inside table cells, nor does it provide other means to set up those columns. Consequently, Word's storage format has no solution for storing the columns setting you have made.

I tried to duplicate your effort:

• Strictly Writer context
• Saving the result as ODF text doc and reopening in Writer retained the setting.
• Touching Word context
• Saving as a Word document and reopening in Writer lost the running columns inside the table cell.
• Opening either file in Word also lost the running columns.

Table columns and text content remained unharmed in all test cases. Only the formatting for running columns inside the table was lost.

Solution:

To utilize all the features of Writer and save the settings reliably, you need to use the native file format, "ODF text document".

more

Thank you for sharing. It's been a while since I've had Word, so I didn't have it around to do that test. It's unfortunate there's no option to warn when saving something that can't be saved in that format, instead of just the blanket warning any time a Microsoft format is used.

( 2020-06-25 14:26:22 +0200 )edit

In case others stumble on this, I got access to Word on another machine today, and Word does let you put columns into a cell, but they render in a bizarre way.

( 2020-06-26 23:43:33 +0200 )edit

Word does let you put columns into a cell

How?

When I tried with Word 2016 and -2019, sections and columns were applied on page level every time. I was unable to set it up inside a table cell. Tried in an empty cell, as well as by selecting preexisting table content.

Doing it in Writer was no problem.

While procedures for Word is not within the scope of this service, the possibility to forward functionality may be of some interest.

( 2020-06-27 01:29:53 +0200 )edit

What I did was put a bulleted list in the cell, then select that text and format -> columns, same thing I did in Writer. It doesn't actually work (which it does in Writer and ODT), but Word lets you do the action. This was with version 16.38 (20061401) on MacOS. What Word does is save it as you see it. The main downside of Writer is that it looked fine when you hit save, and it's not until you open the file again (if you even think to do that -- imagine hitting save then attaching to an email) that you realize it didn't save right. https://i.ibb.co/wyz6CPX/image-2.png

( 2020-06-27 03:51:52 +0200 )edit

As another side note, putting columned text into a cell like this also seems to break Google Docs, it just hangs when trying to open the ODT.

( 2020-06-27 04:03:18 +0200 )edit

I'm putting this as the answer. To convert a bulleted list in several columns to cells in a table, select your bulleted list click Table | Convert | Text to Table and OK out

more

I didn't chose this as the "answer" since I was asking why it's doing what it's doing and how I can debug further. This mostly worked by choosing the "paragraph" separate option and "don't split table", but it lost some of the bullets, unfortunately.

( 2020-06-27 04:09:09 +0200 )edit

No worries. It wasn't proper answer.

( 2020-06-27 06:51:34 +0200 )edit