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 in a Text Box.

Columns in a Text Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 23, 2020)

When you plan the layout of your document, you can utilize columns in your design. You can also use text boxes to place "special" information into your document. What if you want to place columns within a text box, though?

Unfortunately, this cannot be done. The reason is rather simple, based on an understanding of how Word documents are constructed. Columns are a feature available on a section-by-section basis within a document. Sections (and therefore columns) reside on the text layer of a document. Text boxes, however, are independent elements that reside on the graphics layer of a document. They are graphics-based, not text-based, even though you can include formatted text within a text box.

There are ways around the problem, however. Since text boxes are designed to contain limited amounts of text, you could place a table within the text box and place your text within the columns of the table. This will, of course, require you to manipulate the text by hand since it won't automatically "snake" from one table column to another. For limited text it can do the trick quite nicely, however.

Another possible solution is to use multiple text boxes. Follow these general steps:

  1. Create your first text box so that it is the width of a single "column" in your layout.
  2. Copy the text box to the Clipboard and paste it back into the document multiple times.
  3. Move the multiple text boxes so that they are next to each other. These text boxes serve as your "columns."
  4. Right-click on the left-most text box and then choose Create Text Box Link from the resulting Context menu. The mouse pointer changes to a graphic of a measuring cup.
  5. Click in the text box you want to serve as your second column. The two text boxes are now linked and text will flow from one to the other.
  6. If you have more than two "columns," repeat steps 4 and 5 with the other text boxes in your layout.
  7. Enter your text in the left-most text box, and it will naturally flow into the other text boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3405) 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 in a Text Box.

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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