In my document, I have a table with pretty much texts in it. One of my problem is that I have about 2, 3 hierchical levels of texts, such as

row 1: Description

row 2:

  1. Advantages

      a. on Structure

          + advantage of structures

          + advantage of structures

      b. on Structure

          + advantage of structures

          + advantage of structures

  2. Disadvantages


row 3: Solution

row 4:

  1. Main solution


   2. Alternative solution

I know it seems a bit unnatural to use table for that purpose, but it's because I'm trying to apply the template the administrators provide (which they use MSWord to create) on my Thesis.

As finding the way to do this, I figure out a pretty simple solution is to use tabular together with the numerate and itemize environment. However, the problem occurs when the table become pretty large as it expand over pages.

I also found a way to break the table down using longtable, but it seems not working well in this situation: because the contents in 1 row (say row #2) are all encapsulated between the scope of \begin{enumerate}...\end{enumerate}, the row cannot be broken into 2. Thus, it seems pretty ugly for the first small row 1 in a whole page and the big chunky row 2 in the next page. Actually, as I observe, the {longtable} can only breaks tables at each row (i.e. between row 1 and row 2 or between row 2 and row 3...), thus, even if the second row is more-than-one page long, it still remains in 1 page (leaving a part of content hidden at the page bottom)

Dont know it there's a way around this problem or I have to use another technique for my initial problem?

2 Answers 2


As you said, a tabular is not appropiate for this kind of contents. However, your first though was to use a tabular, because the Word template used a table for this case. So perhaps we should ask ourselves what was the reason to use a table in Word in the first time.

My guess, is that the only reason to use a Word table in this case, since the table has a single column, is to have borders around the "cells".

If I'm right, the best solution is not to use latex tabular, but some other way to frame paragraphs. The usual \fbox is not appropiate here because it will prevent a page break at its contents (the same problem that you had with tabular, whichs is not caused by the enumerate environments, but by the tabular cell).

You can use a package such as framed wich allows to frame long paragraphs while allowing page break. You will have to play also with vertical skips between these framed paragraphs, to make them zero so that they look "like a table".

  • Yeah, that's it, I think the administrator use Word table because it gives frames on every section. I'll consider the framed package. Or I think I'll do the numbering manually on each row Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 11:34

This is not the typicall usage of tabulars. I suggest to replace it by the tabbing environment, at least give it a try. Another approach might be to have 'enough' columns, which are running parallel down the page, see the packages parallel, parcolumn and others.

  • would you please give a bit more information? There's one thing I think that I should make clear, it is the template provided by the administrator, and thus, it's not my choice to do or not. The only thing I can do is trying to imitiating that template (by any means) :) Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 11:36

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