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Insert a Column Break

If you work with Microsoft Word a lot then I’m sure that you’ve created documents containing columns at one time or another.

I know that I use them frequently when I have long lists of short items… things that could be easily put into two or three columns across the page. The columns will save on printed paper as well as give a pleasing layout that would be almost impossible to accomplish using tab stops.

At any rate, when you’re using columns in Word do you ever find that you’ve finished what you want in one before the end and now need to manually move to the next?

It happens to all of us and what I’m really interested in right now is how you made that move from one column to the next even though Word did not move you there automatically.

The most common thing that I’ve seen people do is to use the Enter key to add whatever number of blank lines needed to fill the column.

Don’t do that! It’s an editing nightmare.

Any time thereafter that you add an item to a column it pushes all those blank lines down one which will begin to put blank lines at the top of the following column(s).

Next time, enter an actual column break which will allow you to add to the bottom of a column without disturbing the rest.

One way to insert an actual column break is to use the menus / Ribbon.

Older versions of Word:

Use the Insert menu, Break choice.

Choose Column Break and click OK.

Word 2007:

The Page Layout tab of the Ribbon is where we must start.

Once there click the Breaks button (in the Page Setup section) and choose Column Break from the list.

Or… might I suggest a quick key combination to get the job done?

Yeah, I thought you might like that.

Next time you need to move on to the next column before the current one is filled try Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

Yep, that’s all there is to it. Using column breaks saves you time now (they’re faster to insert than all the blank lines) and a whole lot more time later when you go back to edit (you won’t find yourself fighting to add information while you try to remove all those blank lines).