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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 4, 2017)
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:
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.
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Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.