How to Create Columns of Text


There are times when you may want your text to appear in columns. Perhaps it’s a page of poetry where the lines are relatively short or a list of ingredients in a cookbook. There are correct and incorrect ways to do this. In ‘Show Formatting Mode’, you should not see little dots or little arrows between your columns. The dots represent where you have hit the Space Bar. The arrows represent where you have entered Tabs.

You should not be pressing the Space Bar or the Tab key to space apart your columns on the page. You may be able to get this to look right within the margins of your original manuscript, but as soon as those margins make the necessary change into your final book size, it will probably look very different from what you intended.

The correct way to do this in Microsoft Word is to select the text you want to appear in the columns. Then, go to ‘Format’ and ‘Columns’. You’ll be able to select how many columns you want. In this example, we’re dealing with a list of pretty short words, so I’ll try setting it up in four columns. Normally, we recommend no more than two columns if you are publishing a 5 x 8 or 6 x 9 book. Any more than two may not fit on the final book pages.

If we go back into ‘Show Formatting Mode’, you’ll see that there are no Tabs or Spaces separating out the columns. This is what your columns should look like.

If your text columns have been created incorrectly, they will need to be reconstructed before your book can begin production. You can do this yourself using the process we just discussed or you can ask a representative for a Manuscript Preparation Estimate if you would like us to do the repairs.