How to Insert a Column Break in Word

Yes, it's possible to get column text to line up the way you want

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Columns are a handy formatting tool in Microsoft Word. However, there's a trick to line up the text in a certain way, place something specific in a column, or evenly distribute columns. Use column breaks (similar to page breaks) to format columns the way you want.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

How to Insert a Column Break

A column break places a hard break, much like a page break or section break, in the inserted location and forces the rest of the text to appear in the next column.

  1. In a document that includes columns, place the cursor where you want the column to break.

    The best place for a column break is typically between paragraphs or other major sections of text.

    MS Word document with columns
  2. On the ribbon, go to the Layout tab and, in the Page Setup group, select Breaks > Column.

    Column Break menu item in Word
  3. The selected location now appears at the top of the next column.

    MS Word with column break inserted

Insert a Continuous Break

If you want columns to contain an even amount of text, use a continuous break, which evenly balances the text in the columns.

  1. Place the cursor at the end of the column you want balanced.

    MS Word document with columns
  2. Go to the Layout tab and, in the Page Setup group, select Breaks > Continuous.

    Continuous break menu item in Word
  3. The columns are now even.

    MS Word with evenly distributed columns

With a continuous break inserted, when text is added to a column, Word moves the text between columns to ensure columns are evenly distributed.

Delete a Break

If there's a break in a column that you no longer need, or if the document has a column break that you can't find, delete the column break or continuous break.

  1. Go to the Home tab and, in the Paragraph group, select Show Formatting Symbols. Formatting marks, including column breaks, appear.

    Show Formatting button in Word
  2. Place the cursor in the break you want to remove.

    MS Word document with formatting marks visible
  3. Press Delete on the keyboard. The column break or continuous break is removed.

    MS Word document with columns
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