Microsoft Word columns help you to create a better looking document when that document is text heavy.
Columns not only help you to organize text in a newspaper style format where text runs through a series of narrow columns but they are also useful for step by step documents and even some reports and brochures. Here I will show you how to organize text in columns in Word and how to create a document that looks like it is formatted in columns but, in fact, uses tables instead.
Finally, I'll show you how you can get the look of columns using linked text boxes are useful when you want text to flow around a document. When this column is full, the text snakes up and begins to fill the third column, if there is one. If not, a new page is begun and the text begins to fill the first column of the new page.
This column feature is also known as newspaper columns and they are obviously handy for newsletters but they also work well for training documents.
You may find you get more text on the page if you use columns and it looks neater and more professional. You can create columns before typing text or after it is typed. Typically, for A4 or Letter size paper two or three columns is plenty. Use two columns for training materials and two or three for newsletters.
By default columns are created equal in width but if you want to change this, choose More Columns from the dropdown list to view the Columns dialog. Here you can disable the Equal Column Width checkbox and, instead, set your own column widths and custom inter column spacing. Make sure to allow enough spacing between columns to make a clear visual distinction between them - otherwise the lines of text will run into each other and they will be hard to read. The columns dialog also has an Apply To setting which lets you specify where the columns start.
This is an important setting, particularly where you want a heading of the document to be the full width of the page and the columns to begin under the heading. If you want a vertical line between the columns, check the Line Between checkbox. This line will be black and it is a fixed width which can't be altered. When you are done, click Ok to confirm your settings. If you have the Ruler visible on the screen you will see column markers on the ruler line.
If you set up columns ahead of typing the document you can now go ahead and start typing. As you do so, the text will scroll around to fill the column. When you reach the end of the page the text will then snake around to fill the next column on the page.
When the page is finished then a new page will begin. The text will then jump to the top of the next column even though you haven't yet reached the bottom of the page. Column breaks can be deleted like any other Word code by placing your cursor just in front of the column break and press Delete. When you do this the column break will disappear and the text will realign down the first column to fill it and only overflow into the second once the first column is full. When you're working with columns and if you need to move between columns you can either click with your mouse or use these keyboard shortcuts:.
These commands will only work where there is text in a column. When you are working with columns you can create pictures and Clip Art objects that span the space gutter between two columns. You can now drag the image over the gutter between two columns and it will push the text out of the way so it scrolls neatly around the image.
This will remove the columns reinstating the text to a single column which spans the full width of the page. To format a small portion of a document as columns, first select just the text that should appear in columns. This time only the selected text will appear in columns and text above and below it will remain unchanged. When you have text formatted in columns you can adjust the column width either using the Columns dialog or from the Ruler Bar. To use the Ruler bar, drag on the markers at either edge of a column to make it wider or narrower. If the column markers won't move when you drag on them, hold the Alt key and they will all size together.
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