Newspaper-style columns

Most documents are laid out as tables, rather than columns.


Terry will introduce the company, our mission, and our CEO.

CEO Greeting

Kim will salute the award winners and introduce the speaker.


Ms. J. Lopez

The itinerary shown above may be referred to as a "two-column" document, but in all reality, it is not. The reader's eye does not read down one column and down the next. It reads across the page. This action means that the document is in rows and columns, which means it is a table.

True columns are newspaper-style columns. The reader's eye reads fully down one column, then continues at the top of the next column.

columns sample

The number of columns is a section format in Microsoft Word. Each section can have only one "number of columns," so if you want to have one column in part of your document, and two columns in another, you will need to break the document into sections.

In the example shown above, there are three sections visible. In the first (top) section, there is only one column. In the second (middle) section, there are two columns. In the third (bottom) section, there is only one column. Therefore, this document needs to be broken into three sections, with a section break before and after the two-column section.

The trick with columns is that, typically, they do not start and end neatly at the beginning or end of one page. Often, a single page has text that is in one column, such as a headline, followed by text in several columns, such as articles. This is show in the sample above. Therefore, while you need section breaks to achieve different numbers of columns, you cannot use the typical section breaks of next page, odd page, or even page. In this scenario, you need to insert a continuous section break.

Continuous section breaks create new sections without starting a new page.

There is another type of break that you will encounter when working with columns: the column break. By default, Word will wrap text in columns so that when the text reaches the bottom of the first column, it will wrap to the top of the next column automatically. Sometimes, you will want to specify which text is at the top of the next columns. To do this, you insert a column break. A column break is like a page break. It is a hidden formatting character, but rather than moving the following text to the top of the next page, it moves text to the top of the next column.


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