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How to create page with two multi-column sections

asked 2019-12-10 15:57:53 +0100

updated 2019-12-10 15:58:37 +0100

A report, for 12 months. Data must be presented in two six-column sections in A4 landscape format. Top of page, columns for Jan-Jun, bottom for Jul-Dec. Rows per column may not be equal, but Jul-Dec columns must start one blank line below the longest column in the Jan-Jun section.

If a page break is allowed, i.e. the Jan-Jun columns are on page one, and the Jul-Dec on page two, the thing is trivial, but there does not seem to be a way of creating this format on a single page, or is there?

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answered 2019-12-10 16:06:17 +0100

ajlittoz gravatar image

updated 2019-12-10 16:13:39 +0100

Considering that your columns are "independent", i;e; if textual matter for January is longer than available page height, it must not flow automatically into next column (February). Consequently, I don't recommend a section. Rather, I suggest using a table for Jan-June and a second table for July-Dec.

You are free to put borders or not around your columns. You can have a title row at top of each table and this title may automatically repeat in case of page break within the table.

Row height will expand as needed by the biggest cell.

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The data is presented in a 5-pt font, which gives me enough space for 200 lines. The longest column currently has 25 lines+4 lines, so I'm not worried about column overflows. I'd love to see the section solution.

Using tables is out-of-the-question, the data is generated externally in .RTF format on z/OS. Using columns is very easy, we've done that many times before, creating tables, as suggested below? Well, we've been there, tried it, and it is a nightmare.

prino gravatar imageprino ( 2019-12-10 16:39:58 +0100 )edit

I'm close to getting a working solution using sections, that displays correctly in both Word XP (our reference) and Writer, the latter being far more sensitive, as we've found out before, to the omission of RTF tags - Word assumes sensible(?)defaults, Writer makes a complete mess of things.

prino gravatar imageprino ( 2019-12-11 17:38:34 +0100 )edit

Writer ... being far more sensitive, as we've found out before, to the omission of RTF tags - Word assumes sensible(?)defaults, Writer makes a complete mess of things

... which would be bugs, and require own bug reports with samples for each such case...

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-12-27 13:30:43 +0100 )edit

answered 2019-12-27 12:10:23 +0100

We've decided to create the columns on z/OS, as full lines, which turned out to be way more easy than fiddling with \column and \sect and trying to keep the '{' and '}' balanced.

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Both your statements in comments to @ajlittoz's answer, where you declare that using proper structure for your data (tables) is "out of question" (because of perceived complexity of generating correct markup), and this answer (which I understood as also discarding columns approach for the same reason) indicate imo that the choice of the format (RTF), which was omitted from the original question (being an important detail), was wrong in the first place. If an implementation cannot afford using format's facilities dedicated for a specific task, and resorts to faking the result with workarounds, the format should have been replaced with something the implementation can handle properly (XML-based? even possibly plain-text like several CSVs?).

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-12-27 13:38:34 +0100 )edit

answered 2019-12-10 16:02:24 +0100

updated 2019-12-10 16:06:47 +0100

It's also trivial. You could even use two 6-column sections, but in fact, your data fits more into 3-row 6-column table (the 2nd row for setting the desired spacing between the two main rows; other possibilities also exist); the table could be made without borders if needed.

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Hi @Mike Kaganski, cross-posting

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2019-12-10 16:07:12 +0100 )edit
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Asked: 2019-12-10 15:57:53 +0100

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Last updated: Dec 27 '19