Word.Tips.Net WordTips (Menu Interface)

Columns within Text Boxes

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Columns within Text Boxes.

As you are laying out your pages using the features of Word, it is not uncommon to use text boxes. You may have a need, however, to place multiple columns of text within a text box. Should be easy, right? After all, you can create columns within the regular body of a document, right?

Well, it is sort of easy. Fact of the matter is, there is no way to create multiple columns within a text box. However, you can use multiple text boxes, side-by-side, that are linked. This allows your text to freely flow from the left text box to the neighboring right text box, just as text would flow within columns.

Once you have your two text boxes placed next to each other and sized appropriately, you can link them (so the text flows properly) by following these steps:

  1. Right-click on the left text box (the one that will form the "left column" of your multi-column layout). Word displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Create Text Box Link from the Context menu. The mouse pointer changes to a cup. When the pointer is located in the left text box (the one on which you clicked) it appears upright and normal. When you move the mouse pointer to the right text box (the one that will form the "right column" of your multi-column layout) it changes to a pouring cup, signifying that text could overflow into that column.
  3. Click in the right column. The mouse pointer returns to normal.

Enter your text in the left-most text box, as desired. When it reaches the bottom of the text box, it flows to the right text box. You can also format your text boxes so that borders appear as desired. For instance, if you want a single border around the entire two-columns you are creating, then make sure your two "column" text boxes appear within a larger text box. You can remove the borders from the column text boxes, but keep the border on the larger text box. If you then group the three text boxes, you can move them as a complete, single unit.

Another potential solution is to create a two-column, single-row table in your text box. You can then place information in either the left or right column of the table, as desired. The drawback to this approach, of course, is that text will not freely flow from one table column to the other.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1539) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Columns within Text Boxes.

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Comments for this tip:

Doreen Wolf    08 Oct 2016, 08:46
Why do they have to make something so simple so complex? Give me the old version of Word - much more user friendly! Plus I did't get a Context menu when I tried this tip.
KM    04 May 2016, 13:23
Finally, a website that provides usable help. Thanks!
Sk    14 Mar 2016, 06:27
That was my idea not helping :(
Tiffany    03 Sep 2015, 16:38
I figured out how to do what I was trying to do and will share here for those that wish to use this method. I had done this years ago and had forgotten how but you need to add a table, not a text box. This will allow you to define how many rows and/or columns you want and you can select not line if you wish the column to be not seen while reading.
Tiffany    03 Sep 2015, 16:30
This really wasn't what I was trying to accomplish when I stumbled on this site, or at least it isn't working the way I intended. I am trying to have one single text box the has a divider to separate the text but keep it in line with one another. The purpose is for a resume, I want to enter the name of the company on the left side and the dates worked on the far right side. Doing that makes sure when converted to PDF, the text stays put rather then losing alignment. Does that make sense? Can someone help?
Jones    06 Jul 2015, 10:18
That was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
Stella    18 Jun 2015, 11:15
This was fantastic!! Thanks for the simple and clear instructions. You are the best!!
Rasool    17 Feb 2015, 03:27
maximum how many text boxes can we link in a document. is there any limit? caz i am facing problem at 33th text box to link. please can anyone show the solution?
Suzanne    13 Feb 2015, 09:07
Just used this in Publisher. The perfect tip - did exactly as I needed and so straight forward. THANK YOU!!!!
jonwaynew    16 Jan 2015, 12:20
This tip is a gem. Can't wait to find excuses to use it. :)
Sneha    05 Jan 2015, 02:23
Thank you so very much!!!! I had no clue abt this and I'm so relieved right now that my work is made so easy!
Cindy    03 Dec 2014, 09:25
Thank you for this great tip and very clear instructions!!
Shaheed    07 Aug 2014, 14:12
Thank you so much for this tip, I was going nuts cutting and pasting from one box to the other trying to fit the right amount on each box.
Toni    15 Apr 2014, 16:18
OMG!! Thank you so much! This works in Word 2013, too. The "create link" option is in the Drawing Tools Format tool bar, text section. This is brilliant! Thank you Word Tips!!
Fegelein    20 Jan 2014, 16:48
It is a magnificent tip, and is very helpful to those wanting to save space, or create newspapers. Well done.
supriya    19 Nov 2013, 13:10
Ole Martin    24 Apr 2013, 06:20
In Office 2010 I had to left click in the text box, choose the drawing tools menu that appear in orange color, go to format and there was the create text box link button..
Note that the text box u link to needs to be empty..
Turnip Features    14 Feb 2013, 19:16
Exactly what I needed. Thank you so much!!
davep    08 Feb 2013, 11:01
Doesn't work in word 2010
jeffrey    01 Jan 2013, 09:21
Fantastic tip for those doing layout, and not apparent from anything else I had seen. BUT: note that you can only right click to link boxes if the cursor is resting on the border of the first box you are linking. and ALSO: it is possible to link more than two boxes. Amazing!
Jérémie de Canada    20 Sep 2012, 16:53
Merci ça m'aidé beaucoup!
J'avais vraiment la misère à comprendre!
Minnie    09 Jan 2012, 07:08
You saved my life. I had to write an article on word.

Minnie K.
Paulo from Belgium    09 Dec 2011, 08:49
Thank you for saving me - such a simple answer and not so obvious from using word.
Merci beau-coup

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