How do you use Microsoft Word to create columns?

The only information I can find out about Microsoft word columns concerns “snaking” them (so that the bottom of one column leads to the top of the next one, like a newspaper), which doesn’t help me at all, since I want to create side-by-side columns. (I.e., I want the material in Column B to comment on the material in in Column A.)

Specifically, I’m writing a screenplay and need a format such that I have the visual stuff in the left hand column and the verbal stuff in the right hand column, and they need to align more or less perfectly. I’m finding it vexingly difficult to find out how to do this seemingly simple task.

If anyone knows how to do this, or at least to point me to a source that might explain this to me, I’ll be grateful for the tutelege.

Until then, I’ll be doing my drafting in pencil and paper, if I can calm myself down enough to write. Trying to figure this stuff out by my own wits has put me in such a riled up state that I think I should do some heavy-duty exercise before getting down to work.
Or at least take a walk. But when I’m done, I’ll be checking in to see if anyone has set me straight.

Thanks for the help in getting the great American screenplay written. Look for your name in the credits.

Is a table not suited to this kind of application?

Create a table. If you don’t want the column lines to be visible, choose that option. I don’t have Word installed on my machine or I would tell you what the button is. I think it looks like a small grid along the top of the environment.

Long story short, a table with invisible cell borders is what you are looking for.

Well, let’s slow down a moment. Taking the cell borders off before you’re done will make things difficult as you can’t see the actual cells. Make the borders invisible last.

Actually, I’m not sure if I need them visible or not. (It’s just for my own use, and that of the crew and cast, and no one’s stickler’s for form here. The borders may help people tell one scene from another.).
I’ve been trying to create tables for the last hour or so, thanks to you kind folks, and I’ve been cutting and pasting my last version into this new, cleaner one. So far so good. I just need to make up the dayI lost learning how to format the script, but that’s nothing new.

It may be obvious to you, but to me the word “table” meant only what I’d been banging my forehead against all afternoon. I thank you and my forehead thanks you.

I find it easier to just use Excel for this.

      • Probably Overreacting, But Just For General Information: really, Word isn’t suited to using for documents with fancy layouts very well–it has lots of bugs concerning them, and it can’t translate its formatting well into any other medium that preserves the layout you see accurately. If you are interested in complex document layouts, get a real layout program such as Quark or InDesign. I dunno much about Quark, but InDesign can produce PDF’s, which always display on-screen and print accurately.

Well, DougC, I wouldn’t exactly call what PRR wants to do particularly fancy. It’s just a two column layout of information. I mean, sure, Quark an InDesign can be used, but if Word can get the job done, then why not?

There are a few versions of Word on a few types of computers. But I just open Word, push F1, & a little guy comes up asking me what I want to know about.

Why not get some screenplay writing software? There are a few.

Even better – try using a screenplay template for Word. (If the link doesn’t work, go to and do a search of the templates).

I write screenplays in Word and I don’t use columns, is this some new screenplay format I wasn’t aware of??

Hmm; use Word, that he already has, or spend $900 on Quark? Tough call.

Well, Final Draft is nice, its about $119 or better on

Not in my version of Word97. The borders are lightly marked and then do not show in print or print preview. I use tables for this type of thing all the time. Works perfectly.

That’s because you went under Tools and turned on the gridlines. If you simply choose no lines with the formatting toolbar, you get invisible cells. That’s what I was warning about.