Software

How to create columns in the middle of a Word document

Formatting a Word document with multiple newspaper-style columns can improve the layout and make the text easier to read. Here are the steps for "columnizing" your document text in older versions of Word and in Word 2007.

Columns, or specifically, newspaper-style columns, are common in newsletters and reports. The good news is that they're easy to implement and you don't have to apply the column format to your entire document; you can columnize any text with just two clicks.

In version 2003 and earlier, select the text you want to display in column format and click the Columns tool on the Standard toolbar. Doing so displays a palette-type drop-down list of columns. Highlight the appropriate number of columns (watch the bottom text update as you select columns to keep up with how many columns you're creating) and then click. It couldn't be simpler.

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In Word 2007, select the text and click Columns in the Page Setup group on the Page Layout tab. To remove columns, select the text and chose one column from the Columns drop-down list.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

10 comments
Jim-MN
Jim-MN

Yes, and what that quick method _actually _does_ is insert a new Section definition (placing that selected text between 2 new Section Breaks). Therefore, if you _then_ change the margins of the entire document unevenly (e.g. you change the Left Margin by one amount and the Right Margin by a different amount or not at all) it unbalances the column widths in that Section of the doc. Fortunately you can easily fix it by doing the same shortcut again: simply position your cursor anywhere in that Section and choose the same (or different, if you like) number of Columns with that same icon, and it will re-balance the column widths in that Section without adding a new Section (doing the smart, Right Thing). Wonderful. I hope this helps. Jim

bbyrnes424
bbyrnes424

Wow!! As long as I have been using Word, I never knew that short-cut existed! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Betty

ssharkins
ssharkins

There are no trival tips -- only people who don't need them or already know them.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I know somebody's going to find that useful -- I hadn't considered the problem or I'd have included it in the original tip. Thank you for mentioning this!

mmoran
mmoran

Woo-whoo! No more drawing textboxes when I want columns. Thanks, Susan!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I understand completely -- the little stuff matters! ;) I'm glad you found the tip useful.

AtCollege
AtCollege

Most people don't even know about the column feature, so the tip is a good one. When I teach people to use columns, I say to type the document first. Then if most of the document is going to be in say 2 columns, don't have anything selected, just follow your steps to put it in 2 columns. For headlines, select the text and make it in 1 column. Everyone thinks it is magic!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I love it when a simple tip like that really reaches a lot of people.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Anyone remember the early word processors and how hard columns were? This really is a nice easy feature and you're right -- I think a lot of people just aren't aware of it. I never know what readers are going to find helpful, so I try not to take too much for granted.