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: Changing the Number of Columns in the Middle of a Document.

Changing the Number of Columns in the Middle of a Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 3, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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For some document layouts, columns can be used to present your information clearly and concisely. What if you already have a document and you want to format only part of it in columns? As an example, let's assume you have a five-page document, and you want to format the center part of page two as three columns. You want the rest of the document to remain a single column. To accomplish this formatting challenge, you can follow these steps:

  1. Place the insertion point at the beginning of the text that will appear in the columns.
  2. Display the Layout tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click on the Breaks tool. Word displays a list of break types.
  4. Click on Continuous. Word inserts a continuous section break in your document.
  5. Place the insertion point at the end of the text that will appear in the columns.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 4 to insert another continuous section break.
  7. Place the insertion point anywhere within the text that will appear in the columns.
  8. Click the Columns tool in the Page Setup group. Word displays a number of column options.
  9. Choose the option that indicates how many columns you desire.

That's it; the section between the two section breaks is formatted to use the number of columns you specified.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9480) 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: Changing the Number of Columns in the Middle of a Document.

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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2021-11-20 18:03:38

Johnny Waldrip

That's all well and good but if you have footnotes they will start over at one after the section break. And if you just highlight the list and hit colums two lets say. word automatically puts a continuous section break and therefore starts your footnotes over. Is there a way around this. I want two column bulleted list but want the footnotes to run consecutively through the section.


2021-07-07 16:31:44

Annette Carlson

Hi Allen,
Another quick and easy way to change text to columns is to select the text, With the text still selected, go to the Layout Tab, click columns, and select the # columns you want. Done.


2021-07-03 10:36:52

Jane

You can replace steps 3-7 with a single step of selecting the text you want to appear in columns. The Columns tool automatically inserts the necessary continuous section breaks-- at least it does so in Word 2016.


2021-07-03 06:22:50

Padraig McCarthy

Number of columns: you list 9 steps. How about 4?
1. Within the document, select the passage in your usual way.
2. Alt+O (for Format) and type C (for Columns)
3. In the Columns dialog box, select parameters: Number of columns, Width & Spacing, and Line between if desired.
4. Click Okay.
Done!
I use Word 2010, so check for your version.
If your selection is to the end of the document and you want to revert to the original arrangement of columns, just click back one space at the end of the selection before doing the above.


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