Create a two-column document template in Microsoft Word

Make your long reports easier to read by using a two-column template to create them.

Dennis O'Reilly Former CNET contributor
Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.
Dennis O'Reilly
2 min read

I recently finished working on a project that generated a dozen separate reports published together in a single booklet. Each report was from three to eight pages long, and most of them included at least one table or chart.

When we were done, several of my co-workers commented on how nicely the reports were laid out. All I had done was create a Word template with a simple two-column layout for long text sections.

To create this template, open a new document, type a dummy document title on the first line, choose a font type and size (I used 12-point bold lucida sans, for example), and center the line by choosing the appropriate icon in the formatting section of Word 2003's standard toolbar and under the Home tab on Word 2007's ribbon.

On the next line, enter dummy text to represent the document summary. The quick way to do so is to type =rand(p,s) (where "p" is the number of paragraphs and "s" is the number of sentences) and press Enter. Don't go nuts, though. This is supposed to be a "summary."

Choose a font type and size for the summary, which will appear in a single column. Now press Enter to move the cursor to a new line. In Word 2003, click Insert > Break > Continuous > OK. In Word 2007, click the Page Layout tab, choose Breaks in the Page Setup section, and click Continuous in the drop-down menu.

Microsoft Word 2007 page-break options
Add a continuous section break to your two-column Word template via the Page Layout tab. Microsoft

In Word 2003, click Format > Columns and choose the two-column icon under Presets. In Word 2007, click the Page Layout tab on the ribbon and click Columns > Two. (Note that this important step was inadvertently excluded from the original version of the tip; my apologies.)

Paste in more dummy text by typing =rand(p,s) (where "p" is the number of paragraphs and "s" is the number of sentences) and pressing Enter. Format the font size and type, or stick with the document defaults.

Finally, save the file as a template: In Word 2003, click File > Save As, give the template a name such as "Two-column layout," choose a location for the file (more on this below), select Document Template (*.dot) in the Save as Type drop-down menu, and click Save.

In Word 2007, click the Office button, choose Save As > Word Template (or choose one of the other "Template" options on the "Save as type" drop-down menu), and click Save.

To have your new template listed under My Templates in Word's New dialog, save the template to this folder in Vista:
C:\Users\your logon ID\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

Or this folder in XP:
C:\Users\your logon ID\AppData\Microsoft\Templates

Or click the Templates entry under Favorite Links in Vista or Trusted Templates in XP's Save in dialog. Note that once you've opened it, the template will also appear in the Recent documents list in both Word versions.