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, sometimes they can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to get your text to line up a certain way, you want something specific in one of the columns, or you want your columns to be evenly distributed. Column breaks (similar to page breaks) can help you get your columns formatted just the way you want.

This article applies to Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word for Office 365.

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 your cursor where you want your 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, select Layout. In the Page Setup group, select Breaks > Column.

    MS Word with Page Breaks menu displayed
  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 your columns to contain an even amount of text, consider using a continuous break, which evenly balances the text in your columns.

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

    MS Word document with columns
  2. On the ribbon, select Layout. In the Page Setup group, select Breaks > Continuous.

    MS Word with Page Breaks menu displayed
  3. Columns are now even.

Once you have your continuous break inserted, any time you add text to a column, Word automatically moves it between columns to ensure they're evenly distributed.

MS Word with evenly distributed columns

Delete a Break

You might have placed a break in a column that you no longer need, or maybe you inherited a document with a column break that you cannot find. You can easily delete the column break or continuous break.

  1. On the ribbon, select Home. In the Paragraph group, select Show Formatting Symbols (the icon that looks like a paragraph mark). Formatting marks, including column breaks, appear.

    MS Word with Show Formatting Symbols command displayed
  2. Place your cursor in the break you want to remove.

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

    MS Word document with columns