How do I create a bilingual documents with two columns side by side?

Please note that the default two-column layout does not work because I need the two columns, of two different languages, go down the entire document independently but side by side with each other. Thank you.

Considering LO’s international user base, this would be a very good feature to have as standard. (I live in Canada where bilingual English/French documents are common.)

Good idea, ve3oat. How do I access the international user base? Thanks.

If not here, then I have no idea. As others might suggest, the feature you are requesting would be a good enhancement you could /should suggest it at Bugzilla.

Can you get the result you want by using a two-column table?

If you want the two languages to have corresponding paragraphs side by side you can create a fresh row for each pair of paragraphs. But if the text is long setting this up is a bit tedious.

How to create a two-column table

In Writer, to add the table press Ctrl + F12 or select “Table” > “Insert Table”. In the panel that appears select 2 columns then “Insert”.

Click anywhere in the table, then select “Table” > “Properties” to start setting up the table as you want it to appear. For side by side columns of text I suggest you might want to remove the the cell’s “Spacing to Contents” on the inner edges of the columns (select the “Borders” tab, remove any tick from the “Synchronize” box and adjust the space settings).

The table rows should increase in height when you insert your text to accommodate it. If they don’t, click in the table and select “Table” > “Size” > “Row Height”, then make sure there is a tick in the “Fit to size” box and set the “Height” to some very low figure such as 0.01 inches.

Other possible sources of problems include settings not allowing the table or rows to split across pages. These are easily sorted out by exploring the “Tables Properties” panel options.

I suggest you also download the Writer user manual – the PDF is free from the Document Foundations Documentation page. Chapter 13 explains how you can set up the tables to your own liking, adding or deleting rows, various types of border etc. and help you figure out the best way of tackling your particular problem.

I have never set up a large book with side by side columns in this way so I don’t know what the limits to table size are. But LO copes well with large documents so I would be optimistic and try it.

Unless, of course, someone else knows a better way.

Thank you, Platterbaff. Yes, they are going to be book-length documents. Still, your idea should help but how do I create a two-column table? Thanks.

Probably a DTP program grants you the features which you like. For filling two columns in the same way using a table (and rows within it) is possible but you need “book length” documents, that’s the problem.

Connected frames would do it, but in “book length” size?

I would check if other programs can do that the better way.

Thank you so very much Platterbaff. You have been very helpful but because of the type of documents I deal with, I may have to try Grantler’s suggestion.
I wish Writer had this feature; it doesn’t seem that difficult but what does a non-programmer know?

Thank you ficnfab for your comment.
I too have wondered why this is seemingly difficult. If I remember correctly many years ago Wordperfect for DOS offered a choice of “newspaper” and “parallel” columns which would do what you (and I and I am sure others) want on PCs much less capable than we now have. But such is progress, and we should not complain too much if the kindly experts who create free software for us users don’t always meet all our needs.