Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Determining a Column Width.

Determining a Column Width

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 24, 2020)

One of the first things you must do when you plan your page layout is determine how wide a column of text will be on the page. In typography, there is an old rule of thumb that the column width should be no more than 1.5 times the width of the alphabet, in the font you are using. Thus, you need to determine your font and your type size before you pick a column width. When you have done this, you can type the alphabet one and a half times (A through Z and then A through M), all uppercase, to determine the best column width. Any wider, and the reader's eyes tend to wander as they are reading.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9259) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Determining a Column Width.

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

Specifying a Label Stock for Saved Documents

When you create a document designed to be printed on a particular type of label stock, it might be helpful if Word ...

Discover More

Quickly Accessing Spelling and Grammar Options

You can change the way Word handles spelling and grammar checks through the menus. But there is a quicker way to access ...

Discover More

Using Object Anchors

An object anchor is used to signify the point at which an object is inserted into a document. If you want to see these ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Changing the Number of Columns

If you need to change the number of columns used in a portion of your document, it's easy to do when you use the Columns ...

Discover More

Using Parallel Columns

Users of WordPerfect know what parallel columns are. There is no such capability in Word, but there are ways you can ...

Discover More

Quickly Changing Columns

You can use the Columns tool, available on the Page Layout or Layout tab (depending on which version of Word you are ...

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 6Mpixels. 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 five minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.