Multiple Columns in Google Docs

Sometimes it becomes necessary to organize text in columns when using Word processors like Google Docs or Microsoft Word. There are a lot more use cases of this than you could imagine. The most common places where you find the use of multiple columns for texts include newspapers, newsletters, and trifold or bifold brochures.

It is therefore important for any avid user of Google Docs to know how to organize text into multiple columns and that’s exactly what you will learn in this post. The image below is an example showing text arranged in two columns in Google Docs.

Before we talk about how to organize texts into columns using Google docs, here is a video that teaches you how to add or delete multiple columns of text in Google docs. 

How To Add or Delete Multiple Columns in Google Docs | Google Docs Tips

How to organize text into multiple columns

In this article you will learn about two different ways that you can employ to divide your Google doc text into two or more columns. The two methods that you will learn about are:

  • Creating multiple columns with the formatting tool
  • Creating multiple columns with tables

Let’s start by looking at how to create multiple columns using the formatting tool before we look at using the tables to achieve the same results.

Creating multiple columns with the formatting tool

This method is quite easy to follow and very convenient for even novices to achieve. Here is the step by step guide to help you create or organize your text into two columns.

Step One: Open Google docs

Open up Google Docs either through a browser or using the mobile app. If you are using a browser, you can type in the URL www.docs.google.com to see all your Google docs or type www.docs.new to create a new Google doc.

Step two: Type the content of your document

If it is an existing document then you already have content in it but if it is a new one then you have to type exactly what you want in your document. You can decide to finish the whole document before formatting it to have the number of columns you wish or you can apply the formatting the moment you finish typing a particular content that you want to have in multiple columns.

Step three: Select the text you want to organize

Once you have the text in your document, you need to select the portion that you want to organize into multiple columns. If you want to apply the formatting to all the content then you have to go ahead and select all. 

To select all the content, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + A. However, if you are interested in organizing just some part of the content, then go ahead to select just that portion. You can achieve this by clicking right in front of where the text begins and drag your mouse across to the point where that portion ends.  

Step four: Go to the Format tab

On the ribbon menu, look for “Format”. The format tab is between the Insert tab and the Tools tab. Go ahead and click on the format tab.

Step five: Click on Columns menu

Under the format tab, there are quite a number of menu items. One of such is the columns menu item. Click on the columns menu item and you will be presented with three samples as shown in the image below:

Step six: Choose the option you want (Single, Two, Three columns)

If you want your text to be organized into either two columns or three columns, you can click on the specific option and the text will automatically be formatted to take up the option you chose.

Step seven: Click on more options for more formatting options

When you click on the more options link, it brings up a pop up where you can do additional formatting to the columns that you want to create. Some of the formatting you can do here include:

  • Setting number of columns
  • Setting the spacing between columns in inches
  • Setting a line between the columns or not

Depending on what you want your content to look like, you can go ahead and make the necessary changes here.

Step eight: Apply your new settings

Once you are done, click apply and the page is automatically split into the number of columns and spacing you wanted. However if that isn’t your preferred option don’t fret. Simply select the texts you want to put into columns by highlighting it and follow from step 2-4.

Important note:

To start typing in the next column, you may need to insert a column break. To insert a column break, follow the steps below:

  • Click on the insert tab from the ribbon menu
  • Click on Break (You may need to scroll down the menu items to see this option) 
  • Choose column break which is the second option on the dropdown menu 

Google Docs will then start a new column wherever your insertion point is currently placed.

If the above procedure seems a bit difficult to control, creating tables might be a bit more convenient.

How to create multiple columns in Google Docs with tables

With this method, you’re allowed to be more flexible with your creation/organization process. An example would be that you could make one column longer than the other. You could also change other aspects of the tables like the border thickness and color.

Step one: Click on the Insert tab to open the drop-down menu

In order to insert a table, go to the insert tab on the ribbon menu and click on it to bring up the dropdown menu.

Step two:  Hover on the table option to open another drop-down menu

Hover or click on the table option that shows up on the menu item list. Another dropdown menu will open up.

Step three: Choose the number of columns and rows that you want 

From the table drop-down menu, select the number of columns and rows you want. Eg: 2×1. Where 2 represents the column number and 1 represents the number of rows. The columns refer to the vertical divisions. So, if you want to arrange your text into 3 columns, then you have to hover across 3 columns.

Since, you are just interested in using the table to organize your content into multiple columns, you don’t have to bother about the rows. Keep your row at one. So, you should essentially have a selection like 3 x 1 if you want a 3-column structure.

Step four: Put in your content

Now, your tabular structure with multiple columns is ready for use. The next step is to type in or copy and paste your text into the respective columns just as you want them.

5.      Even though this is optional, you could format your table more to reach the desired style you prefer. The formatting here can include removing all the borders, changing the margins, set background color, etc.

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