Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Columns in a Text Box.

Columns in a Text Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 4, 2017)

10

When you plan the layout of your document, you can utilize columns by using the Columns tool on the Page Layout tab of the ribbon. 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. Select the left-most text box.
  5. Make sure the Format tab of the ribbon is displayed. (This tab is only available once you perform step 4.)
  6. Click the Create Link tool, in the Text group. The mouse pointer changes to a small cup shape. (It looks like a small measuring cup, pouring things to the right.)
  7. 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.
  8. If you have more than two "columns," repeat steps 6 through 7 with the other text boxes in your layout.
  9. Enter your text in the left-most text box, and it will naturally flow into the other text boxes.

It is interesting to note that if you are using Word 2007, there is an even quicker way to accomplish the above steps. Instead of steps 5 and 6, you can simply right-click on the left-most text box and select Create Text Box Link from the resulting Context menu. This displays the "measuring cup" tool mentioned in step 6. This Context-menu shortcut is not available in Word 2010 or Word 2013.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7070) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word 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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Comments for this tip:

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What is eight more than 7?

2017-01-07 10:04:18

Surendera M. Bhanot

COhland It worked for me for three Text Boxex. And I added 4th Textbox and linked it, the text flowed to 4th one (I increased the font size to spread the text). I am on Word2013


2017-01-05 18:08:10

COhland

In Word 2013 this worked for two text boxes; but not when I tried three text boxes. Instead, the Create Link choice did not exist. Only a Break Link.


2017-01-05 01:36:07

M. C. Basak

I am working on MS Word for more than 15 years but was not aware of this trick. Thank you for imparting good and useful tutorials.


2013-08-28 05:15:31

Surendera M. Bhanot

Thank Allen Wyatt for this (amended) wonderful tool to flow the text, It is marvelous.


2013-08-27 13:56:23

awyatt

Joanne, Carol, and Surendera: Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I should have checked the tip closer in Word 2010 and 2013; the Context menu choice is NOT available in those versions.

I've updated the tip to reflect what works in all the ribbon-based versions.

Thanks for the whack.

-Allen


2013-08-27 11:19:39

Surendera M. Bhanot

A very good tip for text flow from one Text Box to another. However, like others, I am not able to perform the Step 4 of the Tip. that is :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.

There is no such <Create Text Box Link> in the resulting 'Context menu'

What are the other ways to to this from ribbon or by key-board shortcuts etc?


2013-08-27 10:12:20

wilkisa

This is a great tip and I have uses for it. Thanks Allen!


2013-08-26 14:14:41

Carol

Joanne, I did not find the "create text box link" on the context menu either, but did find it on the Format tab of the Text Box Tools. It is referred to as "create link". However I am still using 2007, so yours may be in a different location in 2010.


2013-08-26 10:06:25

joanne

why can't I find create text box link. I have word 2010, when I right click, I do not see Create Text Box Link.


2013-08-26 07:37:59

Bryan

Wow, I had no idea that's what that feature did. This is definitely a Great tip! (Now I just have to find a need to use it...)


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