Can't break column in Writer

I have a document that has no columns on the first page, columns on the second page but I don’t want columns on the third page. When I do a column break, it just moves over to the next column and when you do it again, it goes down to the next line on the initial column. This would make writing very difficult because every page after use columns and I don’t obviously want that.

Hey @nextpancake401. Welcome to the forum and thanks for the question. :slight_smile:

Okay. There are a few different things going on here.

Let me tackle these first:

Types of Breaks


  • “Page Break” sends you to the next page.
  • “Column Break” sends you to the next column.

So let’s say you had 3 columns on your page:

  • Page Break would send you from Page 1->2.
  • Column Break would send you from Column 1->2 or 2->3.
    • Note: These would (typically) keep you on the same page!

Page Styles

This controls the look/layout of the entire page. Stuff like your:

  • Page Size
  • Margins
  • Headers/Footers
  • # of Columns

All the documents, by default, use the:

  • Default Page Style

So… whenever you make changes, like:

  • Adding a Header/Footer
  • Pressing Format > Columns and changing it to 2 columns

this automatically changes ALL PAGES in your document (aka, the “Default Page Style”).

What you will want to do, instead, is create 2 separate Page Styles:

  • One type of Page Style will cover JUST the “pages with X columns”.
  • “Default Page Style” covers ALL THE OTHER pages.

Now… let’s revisit what you want to accomplish:

So, you’d want this:

  • Page 1 = Default Page Style
  • Page 2 = (A different Page Style with 2 columns)
  • Page 3+ = Default Page Style

How to Get A Different Page Style For Your Multi-Column Pages (LibreOffice/Collabora Office)

Okay, now this is much easier to do in LibreOffice or offline Collabora Office… since you’ll have easy access to the “Page Styles” sidebar.

See my Tip “4. Learn to Use Page Styles” post in:

In Collabora Online, it’s a little trickier, but still possible.

How to Do Different Page Styles + Columns in Collabora Online

Step 1. Click in Page 1… then Press:

  • Layout > Manual Break

Step 2. In the “Insert Break” menu, you will see 3 radio buttons:

  • Line Break
  • Column Break
  • Page Break

Choose “Page Break”.

Step 3. You will see a “Page Style” dropdown:

  • Choose anything besides “Default Page Style”.
    • For example, I chose “First Page”.

This will make sure the new page will be a different type, so it WON’T match all the other pages in your document.


Step 4. Press OK.

Step 5. Click your cursor in the 2nd page and:

  • Layout > Columns

Step 6. In the “Columns” menu:

  • Set Columns to 2.
    • (Or whatever # of columns you want.)

Step 7. Press OK.

Step 8. Now, when you:

  • Reach the end of Page 2.
  • OR you Insert > Page Break.

Your 3rd page will go back to default.

DONE!!! And here’s the completed results:

Side Note #1: In Step 6, do you see the “Apply to” dropdown?

Mine says “Page Style: First Page”, because that’s what I chose in Step 3!

This means:

  • ONLY PAGES with the Page Style called “First Page” will get the columns.
  • This won’t affect all other pages in the document!

Side Note #2: If you ever want to change the # of columns or margins in the future… When you press:

  • Layout > Page
  • Layout > Columns

you have to pay very special attention to the titlebar:

because it tells you which Page Style you are currently working with.

Depending on which page your cursor is in, you could be changing the “Default Page Style”, which would change your entire document!