Writer: any way to create parallel columns?

I want to make a textbook translation, with each page showing German on the left, and English on the right.

Is there a way to create two independent parallel columns that will flow from page to page? This is different from ‘newspaper columns’ that flow from the left column into the right column.

Parallel columns would also be useful if you were creating a text that has the main text in the left hand column and commentary notes in the right hand column.

Similar questions have been asked here in the past:

The previous answers usually advise setting up a two-column table. However, many years ago WordPerfect had a proper parallel column function, and maybe by now one has been developed for LibreOffice?


Good question I think. I too would like to know how to do this. (I recall that Ventura Publisher had this running on CPM even before WordPerfect. It was great for making multi page newsletters with multiple articles all starting on the first page that were then continued on later pages.)

The way WordPerfect implements parallel columns (as well as the other type, ‘newspaper columns’) is described in the Corel WordPerfect X8 Handbook, pp.80-81. The handbook is freely available from Corel online as a pdf at WP X8 Handbook pdf

The only answer is to make it in librecalc like primitive comparison table with just text.

As you already discovered, this is not possible in Writer and you need to use one of the available “workarounds” (a table or floating frames). If this feature is important to you, please create an enhancement request and let us know its number.

I have created an enhancement request on Bugzilla, Bug 135008, on 21-Jul-2020.

I have also been trying to do this. I accept this can be done with tables, but also that tables seem less flexible and less than suited to this purpose.

A possible solution (depending on your exact needs) using columns is as follows:

  1. Create your two-column section (or however many you need)
  2. When you do so, ensure that “Evenly distribute contents to all columns” is NOT checked. (If your columns already exist you can click “format>columns” to change this)
  3. Type your text in the first column.
  4. Click “insert>more breaks>insert column break” to allow you to type into the second column.

And what happens when your section starts too low in the page, so that text in the left column meets the bottom of the page? Doesn’t it flow immediately into the right column?
Same question for a longer text in the right column? It flows into the left column on next page.

All in all, you’ll have problems with sections if their number becomes huge. The present solution is based on tables, nolens volens.

Yes, absolutely correct. I did say it was “a possible solution (depending on exact needs)”