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.

Columns within Text Boxes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 28, 2019)

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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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