How to Insert Columns in a Word 2010 Document

By Dan Gookin

All text you write in Word 2010 is already formatted in columns — if it’s only one column of text per page, it still counts as a column. Clicking Word’s Columns command button (in the Page Setup Group on the Page Layout tab) displays a menu of handy column-formatting options. Splitting your text into columns is as easy as choosing a column format from that list.


To be more specific with the number of columns or their layout, choose the More Columns command, and then use the Columns dialog box that appears to create and design multiple columns for your document. For example, you can use the Number of Columns text box to create a number of columns not offered in the Columns menu.


Set the number of columns you want by using the Number of Columns box. Use the Preview window to help determine how your page is formatted. Click the OK button to apply the column format to your document.

Mixing column formats

Your whole document doesn’t have to sport just one column format. You can split things up so that part of the document is in one column and another part is in two columns, and then maybe another part goes back to just one column. The secret is to use the Columns dialog box.

When you’re choosing a new column format, be sure to select the Apply To drop-down list. When you choose Whole Document, the format applies to the entire document. If you choose This Point Forward, the new columns start at the insertion pointer’s location.

Going back to one column

The easiest way to undo a multicolumn document is to return it to a single column. From the Columns button in the Page Layout tab, choose the item One. That restores your document back to single column mode, which is how Word naturally creates documents.

When a document is split into sections, or when you have multiple column formats sprinkled throughout a document, the process is a little more involved:

  1. From the Page Setup area on the Page Layout tab, choose Columns→More Columns.

    The Columns dialog box is displayed.

  2. Choose One from the Presets area.

  3. From the Apply To drop-down list, select Whole Document.

  4. Click OK.

Ending multiple columns in the middle of a document

Say that you’re using multiple columns in a document when suddenly, and for good reason, you decide to switch back to single column format:

  1. Place the insertion pointer wherever you want your columns to stop.

  2. Click the Page Layout tab.

  3. From the Page Setup area, choose Columns→More Columns.

  4. In the Columns dialog box that appears, choose One from the Presets area.

  5. From the Apply To drop-down list, select This Point Forward.

  6. Click OK.

    The columns stop and regular, one-column text is restored.

Using a column break

When you want to continue using columns but want the text you’re writing to start at the top of the next column, you need a column break:


  1. Place the insertion pointer where you want your text to start at the top of the next column.

    For example, you might place it at the beginning of the word close in the preceding figure.

  2. Click the Page Layout tab.

  3. From the Page Setup group, choose Breaks→Column.

    The text hops to the top of the next column.

Column breaks don’t end columns; they merely split a column, ending text at a certain point on a page and starting the rest of the text at the top of the next column.

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