Two-Column Layout in Google Docs

Sadly, two-column layouts are not (yet?) supported in Google Docs. If you really, really want this type of layout, there is a workaround, but it may not be quite as easy as you’d like.

In this previous post, I discussed aligning tables side-by-side via a container table, and that’s what we’re going to do again here. This time, though, take the table borders all the way out to the margins of the page:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Instead of using this container to house smaller tables, as in the previous post, I’m going to enter the text of my document.

Now comes the tricky bit. There’s no way to automatically flow text from one column to the next. Instead, I’m going to have to cut and paste text between columns until it fills up the available space in the way I’d like. As you can see in the image below, the table size extends downwards to suit the text I’ve pasted (or typed) into the table cell, including crossing page breaks where necessary. (Here I’ve used Lorem ipsum text instead of real copy, so don’t try to work out what it means!)

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

After some careful cut and paste operations, I have the text distributed as I want it.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Now to format the table. I right-click within a table cell and choose Table Properties …

Now it’s a matter of setting the cell padding and other table properties to suit my requirements.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Finally, set the border colour to match the background colour and the containing table will disappear, leaving you with your document in two-column format:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Don’t forget that if you edit the text content you may then have to do more cut-and-paste to restore order.

So, not at all ideal, but a usable workaround for when you really need it.