Change a numbered Column in Writer to Text

I have a table in which I need to initially have one column that is numbered. No problem: select the column, turn on numbering. After entering information, I need to sort off of another column and I need the numbers to go along with that sort–not stay perfectly numbered from 1–> Thus, I need to somehow convert the automatic numbers to text.

In Word, I would copy the column, intert it into another document without any formatting, and then paste the unformatted text back over the column in the original document. In LibreOffice, it adds the pasted text into each cell of the column rather than every row going into a cell.

Is there someway to convert an automatically numbered column into text in Writer?


I’ll explain exactly what I’m needing to do. I use tables to take notes as I am working in professional theatre productions.

I have four columns. In the second column, I have text from a script. In the first column, I have the character who is speaking the lines of text. I take notes in the third column, and in the fourth column, I use the numbering function to have it number every row of a (quite large) table.

I first sort the table using the third column to pull all the rows that have text to the top of the table. I then sort the table using the first column, to pull every character’s notes together. Then, I use the fourth column to sort the order in which the lines are spoken. This requires the fourth column to be actual text, rather than the automatic numbering. If it is automatic numbering, the numbers always stay in the same order.

In Word, the way to get around this would be to copy the column with the autonumbering, paste it into another document without any formatting, and then re-paste it into the column of the table. It’s an odd work-around, but it works. If I do this in LibreOffice, when I re-paste into the table, all the lines of numbers go into one individual cell, rather than pasting each line into a row.

I’d prefer to use LibreOffice because it works faster when dealing with tables with close to 3000 rows.

It’s a long explanation, but I didn’t know that I could explain it any other way.



I do not understand your sorting problem. You select your table and then Table Sort . The dialog allows to specify the key column for sorting. If you choose another column that contains your numbers, data will follow the order of the key column. Numbers will no longer be in ascending order. The sort dialog also allows to choose Alphanumeric or Numeric.

Otherwise, to answer your question have you tried to select the column then Right click Number Format, Category: Text ?

Thank you for the “step by step”, I understand better. I think you can use the following:

  • Copy the auto-numbered column
  • Edit Paste Special (eg. in another document) HMTL
  • Copy the result and paste it into the original column

[EDIT #2] More steps, sorry…

  • Copy the auto-numbered column
  • File New Spreadsheet
  • Edit Paste Special Unformatted text
  • Copy the result and Edit Paste Special RTF into a writer document
  • Copy the result and paste it into the original column


I’ve explained exactly what I’m doing in an edited version of the question.

It seemed as if your suggestion would work. When I pasted it, all looked great. After the first sort, I started having multiples of the same numbers. Unfortunately, that keeps it from working as I need.

That worked!!! It’s a long work-around, but it’s good to get it working. I thought of just doing it all in Calc, but there are text editing functions, I really prefer in Writer.