Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007. 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 within Text Boxes.

Columns within Text Boxes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 4, 2013)

12

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 (7754) applies to Microsoft Word 2007. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Quickly Displaying the Page Setup Dialog Box

The Page Setup dialog box is indispensable in setting up the overall look of your document. You can display the dialog box ...

Discover More

Moving Rows and Columns with the Mouse

Like to use the mouse to help you with your document editing? You can move table rows and column with the mouse by using ...

Discover More

Problems with Default Workbook and Worksheet Templates

You can create a default template for both your workbooks and worksheets. These should be placed in the xlstart folder, but ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Adding a Drop Shadow to a Text Box

Drop shadows add a nice touch to text boxes, making it seem like they are hovering above the page. Here's the simple steps ...

Discover More

Creating See-Through Text Boxes

When laying out your document, you may want to use a text box that appears to be positioned over your text, but to be ...

Discover More

Selecting Text in Linked Text Boxes

Text boxes are often used as design elements in a document layout. If you have linked text boxes, you may have noticed that ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 + 0?

2016-05-21 11:51:04

Roderick Ramage

This does not work in Office 2013. Right click produces the usual menu (cut, copy etc. There is no context menu and therefore no text box link. I do not particularly want text boxes, but hoped that they might solve my problem.

An alphabetical list in the in two columns section of a Word (~.htm) document displays two columns perfectly when viewed in Word but shows only one column when opened in a browser. These pages are intended for a website.

It would be easy to use a table but a chore to insert a new item in its alphabetical place.

Can, please, columns be made to work in a browser?


2016-02-16 19:44:59

Amy

How do you do this in Word for MAC 2016


2015-04-17 09:30:13

Maryland, USA

If you carefully place the two textboxes together, is it possible to tweak their outlines so they look like a single shaded box?


2015-04-16 05:07:49

Daniel

Thank you Allen,
The trick for 2007, worked perfectly well.


2014-08-26 12:47:32

awyatt

Alex: Yes, you can. Just follow the same steps you used to link the two you have. Full details:

http://wordribbon.tips.net/T011668

-Allen


2014-08-26 12:33:35

Alex

Using Word 2010 I can link two text boxes (whew! what a chore). I need to link 4 boxes to create a 4 column spread. Possible?


2013-09-25 06:48:59

Surendera M. Bhanot

In Word2010 no "Create Text Box Link' shows up in the Context menu when one Right-clicks on the left text box (the one that will form the "left column" of your multi-column layout}.

The solution to this is to click and highlight the left most Text Box. The 'Drawing Tool' appears. In the 'Text' tab of the Drawing Tool bar click 'Create Link'. Rest is the same as in Tip above. 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. Click in the right column. The mouse pointer returns to normal.


2013-09-24 12:06:25

Deb Fournier

I have 2010. The link tool is under Drawing Tools, Format, Create Link. I just did it, it's pretty cool. I don't know how I'll use it, but it's nice to know.


2013-09-20 22:36:10

Tony

Thanks for re-directing me. Strange that a 2007 feature would be made more difficult in 2010 and 2013.


2013-09-20 19:47:17

awyatt

Tony,

See one of the links that Bryan provided:

http://wordribbon.tips.net/T007070

-Allen


2013-09-20 17:13:57

Tony

I'm not using an earlier version. What happens with later versions? I can't get it to work on Word 2010. There's no Create Text Box Link in my Context menu.


2013-09-18 07:31:27

Bryan

See also:
* http://wordribbon.tips.net/T007070_Columns_in_a_Text_Box.html
* http://wordribbon.tips.net/T011668_Linking_Text_Boxes.html


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.