Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 24, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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 Microsoft 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. ...

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