I want the headings in my multi-column document to span the columns. How can I achieve this?
Okay, so you have divided your document into two or more newspaper-style (“snaking”) columns. But now you want a heading that will take up the full width of the page or some part of it. How you will proceed will depend on whether it’s the whole margin width or just some part of it that you want.
Full margin width
If you want a heading to span all of your columns, you need only leave it in the single-column section before your multicolumn section. If there isn't a single-column section there already, you'll need to create one. Here is the easy way to do this:
Only some of the columns
But what if you want a heading to span just some of the columns? This is not an unusual requirement in a newspaper-style document, where articles may spread across several columns (but not the full page width) with a headline above. Or, in a four-panel brochure or four-column newsletter, suppose you want text to span two of the four panels, as in the example below:
Once you have four columns, you can’t redivide just part of the page into two or three columns. The solution is to put the heading text in a text box or frame. In this example, a frame was used:
Insert a frame
Insert a text box
Whether you use a frame or a text box, if you create the text first and then select it before inserting the frame or text box, the frame/text box will be created around the selected text. If you insert the frame or text box without text selected, you will have to draw it on the screen with the mouse and then add the text. In either case, you can move and resize it after you have created it.
Remove the border
Whether you use a frame or a text box, it will have a border or outline by default. Remove this as follows:
Remove the border from a frame
Remove the outline from a text box:
Position the frame or text box
Frames have only two wrapping styles: None and Around. In this situation, it doesn't seem to matter which you use. In either case, the frame will be anchored to a text paragraph. In the example above, it is anchored to the first heading, “Today’s Program.”
Text boxes have all the same wrapping styles as any other drawing object. In Line with Text is the equivalent of None, and Square is the equivalent of Around. In many versions of Word, the default wrapping style is None or In Front of Text, which will not work (nor will Through). Any other wrapping style seems to be satisfactory. You will need to experiment with the other layout options to find which ones work best for your situation.
If you are using Word 2010 or earlier and rely on text boundaries, you may want to wait till you’re fairly far along in entering text before you insert a text box or frame because the effect of doing this is to reduce the text boundaries to the amount of text you have entered (instead of showing the multiple rectangles you saw when you first created the columns). This can be rather disconcerting.
This article copyright © 2008, 2017, 2023 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.