Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Columns are another big-impact item that influences the overall look and layout of your
document. It seems like just a few years ago business documents were pretty ho-hum,
single column affairs. Today with the advent of feature-full programs like Word, design
has made its way into even the most traditional business reports. We’ve discovered that
in some situations columns not only look good, but they also help you communicate your
information in a more effective way. For example, you might use columns to:
• Use the space in your document most effectively and it more text on the page.
• Group similar ideas together in one part of a page so readers can see comparisons
• Provide readers with a feeling that the small chunks of text are easy to read and
understand. This enhances readability and signals that readers won’t have to work
too hard to get your meaning.
• Vary the page layout and increase reader interest.
• Allow for flexibility around graphics, tables, and pictures on your page.
Planning Your Columns
When you begin to plan your project—especially if you’re planning a fairly complex
document—it’s a good idea to start out not at the computer keyboard but at the drawing board,
sketching out how you want your pages to look. Will you use two columns or three? Do
you want the columns to have equal widths, or will one be narrow and the other two wide?
If you use two columns on the first page will you want three on the next? Thinking carefully
about your document’s final appearance will go a long way toward helping you create it
the way you want.
Word gives you the option of creating more than a dozen columns, but in all but the rarest
circumstances (such as a simple word or number list), you won’t use that many columns—
the width of each column would be a scant 0.5 inch! Most traditional documents use one,
two, or three columns. In some instances, you might use four, but even those columns will
provide little room for more than a few words on a line.
As you prepare your column layout, consider these questions.
• How many columns do you want? Table 6-1 lists the column widths Word uses by
default for a table with one to six columns on an 8.5 × 11-inch portrait page with the
Equal Column Width option selected.
• Will you include graphics around which your columns need to low?