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Columns — Feature to Span Columns

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Within the columns option, you don’t seem to have a feature that allows you to change from two columns or however many, to one column. Put another way, there is no option to span text across all columns or to apply multiple columns to selected text from anywhere within the text frame. For journal writers, I think this is pivotal to have more controls over text in columns. Do you see this becoming a feature soon?


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Hi David and welcome to the forum. Serif hasn't announced any plans regarding Span Columns but it's a frequently-requested feature, there are lots of threads on this topic here. I'd like this feature, too.

Here's a long thread on the topic that is now in the v1 archive but still relevant.


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@David Horsfall,

Is this what you want to achieve?


-> I simply used the Internet technique. I first planned the columns (red arrow) and then merged the cells wherever necessary.

Here is an invoice extract from Affinity Publisher. The values are, incidentally, from the merging of data from an Excel file.


Or is a title with several columns of text?


-> This is simply a wrapping of the title and of the summary frames.

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Mais je vous le demande, peut-on imaginer une police sans sérifs ?

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I and many others have been asking for span columns for years. (Also flowing tables). But it seems Publisher is very much the poor relation.

What span columns means is that with a two or three or whatever column article, you select a word, sentence, whatever, and by clicking an icon, span it across all or some of the columns. The spanned columns then flow with the text when it is altered. InDesign have had it since forever and I would say I use it 20 - 40 times a month. There is no work around in APub that makes efficient sense. 

By not including flowing tables, text to table/table to text, span columns and find and replace user presets, Serif are basically saying, this is a jolly good flyer production app. Which it is. But it's no good for serious DTP yet.

I am not someone finding fault for no reason on a whim. All of the above would cost me literally many hours a month if I used APub instead of InDesign.

I love Designer and Photo is damn good, but Publisher has a long way to go. And will never get there unless it listens to professionals who know what they are talking about. It frustrates me that no one from Serif has ever acknowledged my contributions that I have been making for years, not even to say sorry that's too hard to do. As well as making a living out of IT, I have been a lecturer in many aspects of IT and computer design and I have learned so much over the years from listening to my students. Why oh why will Serif not just admit that maybe someone else might know what a good DTP app looks like?

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9 hours ago, captain_slocum said:

this is a jolly good flyer production app. Which it is. But it's no good for serious DTP yet.

APub does more than flyers. I'm currently moving a manual I wrote from LibreOffice to APub. It will be round about 180 pages (excluding TOC and index) and 70,000 words. Not too many pictures but they are in there. I'm confident that APub can do this better than LibreOffice.

I completely understand the "hours saved a month" thing if you could make use of such and such a feature. I have seen this in AD with the ability to select by same stroke/fill. The first time I saw it it saved me probably three hours.

I know that you want column spanning and flowing tables. They are worthy additions, though I haven't needed them myself but I respect that other people do want/need them. It does sound slightly like you are making a special case for the things that you want, then putting words like "good DTP app" around them, though this might not coincide with what some other people want.

In contrast, RTL text is far more important to me than column spanning. The workarounds for longer texts are not very good, and for short sentences they are acceptable but time consuming. 

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On 11/16/2022 at 3:59 PM, captain_slocum said:

But it's no good for serious DTP yet.

Maybe for you but certainly not as issue for me. My business is fundamentally tied to APu and as I don’t use columns (preferring layout guides and text frames) I don’t miss span columns when I layout my magazines.

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36 minutes ago, Catshill said:

Maybe not for you but certainly not as issue for me. My business is fundamentally tied to APu and as I don’t use columns (preferring layout guides and text frames) I don’t miss span columns when I layout my magazines.

I worked with Quark Xpress for many years and for text in columns I always created and linked the three or four frames by hand and then inserted the text. There was no other way and it was fine. But since I have the ability to create a single frame that can have one or more columns and a title that goes from far left to far right, I don't want anything else.
The articles for the newspaper come from the editor and I copy them into the layout into a single frame, along with the title. The spacing is always the same and correct. With a newspaper of about 80 articles each, I don't want to have to create a frame for the title and three or four frames for the text for each article and adjust them to the millimeter, that really eats up time. I would then create at least 320 frames by hand instead of 80 ...

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I have had a whole flurry of responses to my columns request feature! Unexpected! I think the above sample is missing the point—it is not so much about spanning one line or lines, but (i) spanning groups of text across columns (ii) the ability to start multiple columns (generally 2 columns for me) half-way through text frame or apply multiple columns to selected text within any one text frame. So, for example, journal articles; on the front page, it is good practice to have single column for title, author, abstract and keywords. The introduction onwards, towards the end of the same text frame, I would start two columns.

As an Indesign user, I use these features when creating my content. However, it seems, Affinity is quickly surpassing Indesign, but just seems to miss the mark on a few features.

I suppose creating two text frames on the same page it is not unheard of, but it does break the continuity of the text, and if you have to add new content then you need to keep resizing the text frame, accordingly. Hope that makes sense.

Take it easy 

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David, you have put this very succinctly and explained perfectly why this is such an important feature. If you now apply the same argument to flowing tables and table to text/text to table – which is the way information is often presented in many documents, especially technical reports, something I do a lot of – you can see why APub would be advised to take our comments onboard. Just last week I had to produce a document which had information in table format flowing over 6 pages. The editor sent me an amendment which added 6 rows near the front of the table. I was using InDesign so it was a trivial job. In APub I would have had to redo all 6 pages from scratch. Another example – a magazine I produce has a calendar sent to me as a table which spans the centrefold. It is often the case that items are added at the last moment.

David, forgive me if you feel I am hijacking your thread, but to me the two issues of column span and flowing tables are linked, indeed, I have been requesting both these features regularly on this forum for years, which is why it is so disappointing that they have missed the boat with ver 2 for these essential features.

I understand perfectly the argument expressed here by others that many people have features they would like to see but are trivial or have easy workarounds, or are pleading special cases, but these two things are not in this category, they are DTP staples, for which there is no sensible alternative. 

Being old school, I care about good software at a reasonable but sustainable price, which is why I spend time on this forum and have paid for the v2 suite (they need revenue to continue) and daily use Designer and Photo. From a selfish point of view, if span columns and flowing text (and maybe GREP and find & replace customisable presets) were added to APub, I could finally ditch my need for the Adobe suite! (a hundred smiley emojis!)

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I’d agree that it would be good to add this feature. But, on the odd occasions I need to span columns, I use the same method as Pyanepsion.

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Captain_Slocum. Could not agree more. Wow. I didn’t know that flowing tables was not standard in AP. I rely heavily on flowing tables in Indesign. Although, recently, I just identified a flaw, or rather a missing feature in Indesign. We return to the columns issue again!!! I will describe the flaw if anybody wants to reproduce the error. There is a workaround, but I will get to that.

Describing the problem. If you have columns in Indesign and a table, you cannot span the table across columns. You can, but it is a mess. Create a table in col. A and span it across to col. B. The spacing of the text in col. A, before and after the table, is perfect. However, with col. B, this is where the flaw lies. The text in col. B overwrites the table. The spacing works for col. A, but not for col. B. If you make the table to be in col. A, it doesn’t look good. 

Workaround. Cut the table. It is now its own text frame. Paste the table back into the document (not in-line). Use the custom anchor option to anchor the table to text anywhere within the text frame, and apply text wrap to the table. Now it spans across the columns. The flaw with this is that you lose the 'flowing table’ option. 

Maybe there is a Indesign script or plugin? I have searched for a script, but there is nothing. If anybody knows, that would be really useful to have, and still have the feature of flowing tables from page to page. Why Indesign have corrected this feature, who knows. Also, for the last two years, it seems Indesign have stopped adding any significant updates. I think they have become complacent that they are the industry leader?


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  • 9 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I have to agree with captain_slocum regarding span text across multiple columns.

I started using Affinity Publisher about 18 months ago. Then, after a few months of persevering, I went back to InDesign because I use this feature all the time in my publications. 

I saw version 2 come out, and silly me, I assumed the span column feature would be included due to the large number of people requesting the feature on the forum and the fact this feature is, without question, a prime requirement in a publishing program. 

To get into my first publication with Affinity Publisher 2 and to find out it is still missing is highly disappointing. 
Come on, you guys at Affinity, do the right thing with this request; it is a must-have.


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  • 1 month later...
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Another update.  Still no span columns.  What's going on?  This is such an important feature for shops like ours that create multi-page publications that without it, Affinity just isn't a practical alternative for consideration.  And that's too bad.  I suspect that if Affinity can ever accommodate this functionality its market share will double overnight.

Just sayin'.

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56 minutes ago, Eink said:

This is such an important feature for shops like ours that create multi-page publications that without it, Affinity just isn't a practical alternative for consideration.

I seriously wonder how "shops like ours" could have even survived before Adobe added span columns to ID CS5…? O.o
Just sayin'. ;) 

But don't get me wrong: I am all for span and split columns, better yesterday than today!

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