How to Create Multiple Columns in a Single Shape in PowerPoint

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  • 0:03 Columns
  • 1:05 Creating Columns
  • 2:53 Adjusting the Number…
  • 3:23 Adding Bullets in Columns
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

PowerPoint let's you organize your text into columns, similar to a newspaper or magazine. This lesson will explain how to format a standard, right-to-left text box with multiple columns, remove columns and add bullets to the text inside the columns.


PowerPoint can be used for many types of documents. Although most people use PowerPoint to deliver presentations, it can be used to create printable documents, such as flyers, calendars and educational materials. Because PowerPoint is so easy to use to manipulate text and images, you can find many purposes for the application.

This lesson will discuss a feature that is more typically used when using PowerPoint for printed publications. It will explain how to format text into multiple columns, which is primarily used in publications such as magazines and newspapers.

A column is a vertical line of text that extends from top to bottom. This lesson will focus on creating columns in your text boxes, specifically, how to add and delete columns, how to add text to columns and how to add bullets to the text.

Creating Columns

You are probably asking why would you want to create columns in the first place, right? Well, here is the answer: If you are developing PowerPoint slides specifically to be printed, you might find yourself adding a lot of text. Multi-column layouts will generally fit a little more text on the page and shorter lines of text are also easier to read.

Let's begin by creating a basic text box with two columns. We need to first create the text box, then format the box with columns and, finally, add the text.

Let's start by creating the text box:

  1. Go to the Insert menu in the ribbon.
  2. Click on the Text Box command.
  3. Draw the text box on the slide.

Now, we'll format it for the columns:

  1. Click on the placeholder to the text box.
  2. Right-click and select Format Shape from the menu. The Format Shape panel will open to the right of your slide.
  3. Click on Text Options.
  4. Choose the Text Box command. It's the icon on the far right.
  5. Click on the Columns button. It's at the bottom of the menu.
  6. Select 2 for the numbers of columns and .5 inches for the spacing between the columns.
  7. Click on OK.

Now, to add the text:

  1. As soon as you click OK to your formatting selections, the text box is ready.
  2. Begin typing, and the columns will adjust as you type.
  3. Use the corner-handles on the text box placeholder to adjust the size of the box.

Adjusting the Number of Columns

Once you create your columns and add your text, you might want to see if the format works better with a different number of columns. And, fortunately, PowerPoint makes the adjustment rather easy.

Follow the exact same steps as you would to format your text box with multiple columns. After you click on the Columns button, change the number of columns and click OK. You can continue to adjust the number and the spacing until you have the format and the look that you want.

Adding Bullets in Columns

There are two ways to approach adding bullets. It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Do you have an existing bulleted list that you want to convert to multiple columns? Or, do you have an existing column formatted text that needs a few bullets added?

If you answered yes to the first question and you need to convert your bulleted list to a column format, we use the same steps we covered to add columns. In fact, you can use this process to convert any existing plain text to columns, regardless if the text is bulleted or not.

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