Showing the content in full width of a document may quickly bore the reader. Sometimes, it is a good idea to create your document like newspaper layout with multiple columns. This is one of the easy ways to show attractive content similar to newsletters and brochures. It helps to add different types of content in a single page and highlight the actionable part. In this article, we will explain how to insert columns in Word documents and arrange text using columns. If you have a long content, then make sure to add table of contents for easy accessibility of headings.
Using Default Templates with Columns
Though creating a custom column layout is easier, it takes time to setup the layout. However, Microsoft offers predefined column templates that you can choose for your use.
- Launch your Word application. On the backstage view, you can see the predefined layouts to select under “Featured” section. If you do not see backstage view, navigate to “File > New” menu and look under “Featured” section. You can also search for the column layouts using the search box.
- Select the template and Word will download it from the Microsoft Office library.
- As you can see, there are lot of beautiful columned layouts for resumes, brochures and events that you can choose from and modify.
Creating Columns in Your Documents
If you do not want to use the template and start from the scratch, you can create your column layout. It is possible to set a whole text, a selected area or a section into columns. Let us take an example document having two text paragraph like below:
In order to break the two paragraphs into two columns, simply go to “Layout” menu. Click on “Columns” dropdown and select “Two”. Word will automatically split the two paragraphs into two columns as shown below.
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Inserting Manual Column Break
In the above example, you do not have to highlight the section when you have two paragraphs. Just place the cursor in the section to split into two columns based on the previous section break. If this does not work for you or you want to manually decide the column break point, then follow the below instructions.
- First click on the search box on the top menu and type “show”. Select “Show All” option to show all formatting markups on your document.
- Position your cursor where you want to create a column break.
- Switch to the “Layout” tab and click on the “Breaks” list box.
- Select “Columns” option to set a column break in the selected cursor position.
- You can see the “Column Break” markup on your document and Word will move the content below the column break to next page.
- Now go to “Layout > Columns” and select “Two” to create two columns at the column break point.
You will notice that Word continue the content from the first column to next. The column break will make your document like a newsletter or newspaper layout that continues from one column to next. However, you can also manually type different content after creating columns.
Adjusting the Column Width
By default, Word will adjust the columns to have equal width. However, you can change the width of each column as per your need. In order to adjust the column width, go to “Layout > Columns > More Columns” option.
You can customize the following options:
- Presets – choose one of the existing preset layout options.
- Number of columns – change the number of columns.
- Line between – enable the checkbox to insert a line between the columns.
- Equal column width – disable this checkbox and setup custom width and spacing for your columns.
- Apply to – apply the changes to whole document or only to this section.
After customizing your column layout, you can continue to type in a columned layout.
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Using Markers in the Ruler
When you are working with columns, Word will split the document into sections. You can view the width of the sections on the marker available in top ruler.
Simply, double click on the ruler marker to open “Columns” pop-up box to customize the options as explained above. Alternatively, you can also set the width by dragging the markers in the ruler using mouse.
Undoing Column Layout
If you do not need the distribution into columns anymore, you can simply undo this setting. Afterwards your text will appear in the original structure.
- In order to do so, open the “”Layout > Columns” list box and select the entry “One”.
- The formatting markups will remain intact. You can remove the column break by placing the cursor in front of the formatting symbol and remove it using the delete key.
Creating Mixed Layout
You can also easily create columns and full width layout sections in a single document.
- In order to exit the column layout and go to full width section, position your cursor at the end of the last column.
- Go to “Breaks > Continuous” and apply a section break on the same page. Now your cursor will go to next section and you can see a section break in the formatting markup.
- Go to “Columns” and select “One” to disable the columns and continue in a full width.
Tips and Tricks
- In order to divide a section of your document into columns, select it with the mouse and create columns. When creating columns, Word defines the area automatically for individual sections.
- You can apply column break only to particular section of your document when your document has multiple sections.
- Use keyboard shortcuts, “Control + Shift + Enter” to create a column break.
- You can adjust the column width via the markers in the ruler only when you have selected “Equal column width” checkbox in the “Columns” dialogue window.
- Column changes are an important element to structure texts with multiple columns.
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