Create and Format Newspaper-style Columns in Word Documents

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated September 6, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)

You can make columns in Word documents in a few different ways. There are two types of columns you can create – newspaper-style columns where the text flows from column to column or tables with columns and rows. You can create documents that contain two, three or more columns. In this article, we'll review how to set up newspaper-style columns. If you want to create a table, check out 4 Ways to Create a Table in Word.

The best way to create and manage newspaper-style columns is to create them in sections. In Word, each section can contain a different number of columns. You could, for example, create a two section document if you want a heading to span the top of a document in one column and the remaining text in two, three or more columns.

Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For newer versions of Word, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Layout tab may appear as Page Layout.

Recommended article: 10 Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts for Selecting in Tables

Create columns (basic method)

The Columns command appears on the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon:

Make columns in Word using the Columns command in Ribbon in Word.

To create newspaper-style columns in a Word document:

  1. Click in the document where you want to create columns.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Columns in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click one of the column options (such as Two) or click More Columns. If you click More Columns, a dialog box appears.
  5. In the dialog box, click or enter the number of columns you want.
  6. If you don't want your columns to all be the same width, uncheck or deselect the Equal column width checkbox (you will then be able to change the width of each column separately).
  7. Enter a width for each column if you want.
  8. In the area to the right of each column below Spacing, enter a gap amount if you want (gap is the space between the columns).
  9. Beside Apply To, select your preferred option – Whole document, This point forward, Selected text, or This section. This section appears only if you have inserted a section break. Selected text appears if you have selected text.
  10. Click OK.

The Columns dialog box appears as follows with 2 columns and Equal column width selected:

Create columns in Word using the Columns dialog box.

Insert a section to contain multiple columns

If you create sections to contain columns, you can combine different numbers of columns in your document (and easily return to one column). The default in a Word document is one section.

It's a good idea to turn on Show / Hide Paragraph Marks when working with sections so you can see section breaks and other non-printing characters.

To turn on Show / Hide Paragraph Marks:

  1. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group. Paragraph marks, tabs, spacing and section breaks will display but will not print.

The Show/Hide ¶ command appears on the Home tab in the Ribbon in the Paragraph group:

Show Hide paragraph marks command in Ribbon in Word.

To insert a section to contain columns:

  1. Click in the Word document where you want to insert the section break.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Breaks in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click the type of break you want. Typically, you would choose Continuous.
  5. Add another break (typically Continuous) at the end of the area where you want to end the columns.

The Breaks command appears on the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon:

Breaks drop-down menu in Word to insert a section break for columns.

Create columns in a section

To create columns in a section in a Word document:

  1. Click in the section where you want to create columns. There should be a section break at the beginning and end of this area.
  2. Complete steps 2-8 of the Create columns (basic method) using the dialog box.
  3. Beside Apply To, select This Section.
  4. Click OK.

In the following example, a document has been set up with 3 sections, each with a different number of columns:

Sample Word document with multiple columns.

Create columns for selected text

Another way to create columns is to select text and change it to columns.

To create columns for selected text:

  1. Select the text you want to change to multiple columns.
  2. Complete steps 2-8 of the Create columns (basic method) using the dialog box.
  3. Beside Apply To, Selected Text should appear.
  4. Click OK.

Create columns from a specific point in a document

You can also create columns starting at a specific location in a document.

To create columns starting at a specific point in a document:

  1. Click in the location in the Word document where you want to start columns.
  2. Complete steps 2-8 of the Create columns (basic method) using the dialog box.
  3. Beside Apply To, select This Point Forward.
  4. Click OK.

Insert a column break

If you have created multiple columns, you may want to add a column break to force a new column.

To insert a column break:

  1. Click in the Word document where you want to insert a column break.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Breaks in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click Column.

You can also create a column break by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

When you insert a column break, the cursor will appear in the next column.

View column boundaries

You can display column boundaries when you are working with newspaper-style columns.

To display column boundaries:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Options. A dialog box appears.
  3. Click Advanced in the categories on the left.
  4. Check or select Show text boundaries in the Show document content group.
  5. Click OK.

View column boundaries appears in the Options dialog box in Word:

Show text boundaries in Word Options dialog box to show boundaries for newspaper-style columns.

Remove columns in a section

To remove columns in a section:

  1. Click in the section with the columns you want to remove.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Columns in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click One.

At this point, you can select and delete the section breaks if you want.

Remove columns for selected text

To remove columns for selected text:

  1. Select the text with the columns you want to remove.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Columns in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click One.

If you want to remove all newspaper-style columns in a document, press Ctrl + A for select all and then select One in the Columns drop-down menu.

Remove columns starting at a specific point in a document

To remove columns starting at a specific point in a document:

  1. Click in the location in the Word document where you want to remove columns.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Columns in the Page Setup group. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click More Columns. A dialog box appears.
  5. In the dialog box, select One.
  6. Beside Apply To, select This Point Forward.
  7. Click OK.

Remove section or column breaks

If you have turned on Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group, section breaks and column breaks will appear in the document. Simply drag over a break to select it and press Delete.

Newspaper-style columns are very different from tables with columns and rows and are used for different purposes. They are most often used in newsletters but can be used in any type of document.

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Summary
How to Make Columns in Word
Article Name
How to Make Columns in Word
Description
You can make columns in Word documents in a few different ways. There are two types of columns you can create – newspaper-style columns where the text flows from column to column or tables with columns and rows. You can create documents that contain two, three or more columns. In this article, we’ll review how to set up newspaper-style columns. If you want to create a table, check out How to Create a Table in Word (4 Ways).
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Avantix Learning

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