6:03 am

Using Text Columns In Pages

You can set your text to appear in one, two or more columns. Using multiple columns can make it easier to include elements like photos in your documents. You can flow your text between different numbers of columns on a single page, but it can be trickily to implement.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's look at using Columns in Pages.

I'm using Pages version 5 and we're going to take a look at Columns. I'm going to create just a basic blank document here and I want to, in View, turn on Layout. We can see here the main text box where we can insert some text. Let me put some sample text in there.

Of course, this is going to be a single column of text. If we wanted to break it up into two columns what we would do is go to Format, if you don't already have Format turned on, and click Format there. Then in here you can go to Layout and increase the number of columns.

So in here we have even more detail about what each column is. Let's increase it to two and we see that column 1 and column 2 are equal size and that is the gutter. We can change any of these. We can make one column larger than the other. Increase the space between them if we want.

Over here we can see that the text is broken up into two columns. Now with the sample text it is hard to see but basically the text flows down one column, up to the next to the end of the page, and then continues in the first column on the next page.

One of the reasons we want to do this sometimes is if we are going to insert, say, a photo. Then having the photo in the center of the page makes more sense if there is two columns because otherwise if it is just one column then the text has to wrap around either the left or the right. It doesn't make sense to have to read across the image. So having two columns allows you to put an image here in the center.

Now you don't just have to use either one column or two columns or more. You can mix and match. For instance, let's say we want to have the first paragraph here be a single column. We want to have it then break into two columns so it can wrap around this image.

It is kind of tricky to get Pages to do a mix of single and double columns. I find it works best if you create an empty paragraph, right there, and put your cursor in it. Change that empty paragraph to a single column. Then move your cursor down and select the first paragraph of text and cut it. Then move the cursor back to this section and paste it in. You can see there it works and you have a single column here at the top and then you have a double column here continuing on the rest of the page.

It almost looks like two separate text boxes but in fact it is just one. I can select all the text like that and you can see it grabs it all. I can even select across those boxes there. It certainly looks a lot better maybe if I were to increase the spacing a bit. You can see it actually even adjusts the division down a little bit so the text flows normally between the single column here and the two column.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Using Text Columns In Pages”

    Shirley Allan
    4/17/14 @ 11:02 am

    Yea! The empty paragraph was just what I was looking for to change a document from from one column to two columns in the middle of a document!
    Thanks again Gary!

    jesse mogle
    6/3/14 @ 12:05 am

    I need a blank document to have 4 columns. Each column needs to be independent from the other (meaning text deleted or added in one column can’t effect the other columns but they need to line up)
    The columns you show, and I have tried, make it so when you delete they all shift.
    Without holding enter till the end of 4th column I wasn’t able to freely click
    I thought maybe use a chart but it wants to add cell lines and i can’t have lines.
    It’s for an actor’s resume so the data has to line up

      6/3/14 @ 5:03 am

      Sounds like you don’t want to be using columns at all. What you want would work better if you simply created 4 independent text boxes.

        jesse mogle
        6/3/14 @ 1:54 pm


        Bingo. The simplest solution. I had never used that option before so I wasn’t aware I had it. Makes my question seem amateur now but you’ve saved me a lot of time and frustration. Thank You.


    Jan Fantl
    7/1/14 @ 8:58 am

    I need to write a very long docs, 17 – 70 pages, that have 2 columns running parallel – 2 languages – but each of the columns to break to the next page not to next column. I need the text in 2 languages to stay parallel yet independently.

      7/1/14 @ 4:07 pm

      You can’t use columns that way. You would use normal text boxes in Page Layout mode, which will create some other difficulties for you. I would recommend using a more pro-level Word processor (MS Word) or perhaps a page layout tool (iBooks Author, InDesign, etc).

        Jan Fantl
        7/2/14 @ 5:52 am

        thank you Gary,
        I appreciate – even your advice tours me away from pages.
        I like your videos a lot

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