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Parallel column layout persists down odd-even pages

I need a word processor to handle 2 facing pages differently.  The left (even) pages have a separate layout and format that the right (odd) page numbers.  Most word processors cannot do this, especially MS Word.  Lotus Word Pro does 2 columns correctly, but I have not been able to get different column layouts on opposing left-right pages.

I tried 2 separate files -- one for the left pages and one for the right pages -- but this is too cumbersome on screen and for printing -- the lines of text cannot be made to line up, and viewing, scrolling and printing are all a nightmare.  Here are the requirements --

1. In a book of 300 pages, the LEFT pages have 2 columns, each with its own format, font and column width.  The right pages have 2 columns with different formats and fonts than on the left.  Headers and footers for each page spread across both columns, as Word Pro correctly does.

2.  The main requirement is that ALL LINES MUST BE VERTICALLY ALIGNED down the pages -- else the reader can't visually compare the text in each column, which is CRUCIAL to readability.

3.  Page-at-a-time word processors choke on this -- the formats of the 2 columns of the left pages must persist down to the next left page, and the right column formats must persist down to the next right page.

4. So, typing in column 1 of the left page, at the page end, the next word goes DOWN to column 1 of the next left (even numbered) page, with the same format, font, etc.  Similarly for the other columns.  i.e. the text flow and formatting goes VERTICALLY down the pages -- NOT ACROSS the page, like newsletter layouts.

This vertical flow is called "parallel columns" -- each of 4 columns displayed across 2 facing pages is independent of the other columns (except for line height which is set manually).  Once a column format and flow is set, IT PERSISTS DOWN that column to the end of the book -- it doesn't carry across the page.

Most word-processor developers don't understand parallel book columns, so most word processors can't do them -- they think only left to right column flow.  I tried Wordperfect's parallel column layout, but it cannot handle different facing page layouts -- the odd-even page layouts are forced to be the same.

I tried layout programs like QUARK -- same problem -- you arduously set up a layout for each page, and the text still flows across a page, not down to the next odd/even page.  Also, typing into page-design programs like Quark is way too slow -- I need an efficient word processor that can think vertical, not horizontal.

PLEASE HELP!  If you know a word processor where column text and format carries down to alternate pages, not across a page, PLEASE TELL ME.  Think 2 facing pages, total 4 columns, all in parallel.

When I find a word processor to do this, I will buy a 27" monitor to show all 4 parallel columns across the screen.  The program also must be able to print the layout of the different pages as it appears -- in any book layout, even pages are printed on the back of odd pages, right?  Why can't word processors get this?


Avatar of Don_Card
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the different left/right page formsts is the killer

i was going to suggest a highly recommended DTP package, when i had a thought .. about using Delay Codes in WordPerfect, this would do the trick  BUT unfortunately there is no 'alternate' or odd/even type setting, only no of oages to delay.

WP allows different binding  for odd/even pages, and printing odd/even pages separately (so that you can do double-sided printing), but different odd/even formatting

however, using the Styles feature  (basically Delay Codes w/o the delay :-) and applying to alternate pages would do the trick.

you could then automate this by using a macro or PerfectScript to format pages (by selecting the appropriate Style) based on whether page was odd or even.


don card

You can insert and edit codes that take effect after a specified number of pages. If on page 3, for example, you delay a code by two pages, the code takes effect on page 5. These are called delay codes. You can delay any open code. Open codes are codes used for Line Numbering, Fonts, Tab Setting, and Margins. You cannot delay paired codes. Paired codes are codes that have two codesone at the start of the entry and one at the end of the entry. Codes for Bold, Italics, and Tables or indent and alignment codes, such as Indent and Center, are paired codes.

For example, if you use letterhead for the first page of your document and use normal paper for the rest of the document, you can set the page size for all pages at the beginning of your document. After you set up the first page size, you can place a second page size in delay codes.

To insert a delay code

1.      Position the cursor on the page where you want to delay codes.
2.      Click Format, Page, Delay Codes.
3.      In the Number Of Pages To Skip Before Applying Codes box, choose the number of pages for which you want to delay codes, then click OK.
4.      Choose font and formatting options from the menu or the Delay Codes toolbar.
5.      Click the Close button on the Delay Codes toolbar.


·      You cannot delay paired codes and line format codes, such as Indent, Center, Flush Right, or Tab.


·      The delay code remains at the top of the document or follows a hard page break. A delay code appears as [Delay:#] where # is the number of pages the code is delayed.
·      After a delay code appears in a document, items, such as watermarks and headers and footers, continue on every page as normal.

To edit a delay code

1.      Click View, Reveal Codes.
2.      Double-click the delay code you want to edit.
3.      In the Styles Editor dialog box, make any changes, then click OK.
4.      Click the Close button on the Delay Codes toolbar.


·      You can display properties for a delay code in the Reveal Codes window.

Copyright (c) Corel Corporation. 1998-2000. All rights reserved.
WP Create Styles Intro
WP Apply Styles Intro
Avatar of scrathcyboy


Don, thanks for this input.  I should have also mentioned that the headers and footers for the left and right (i.e. odd-even) pages also are different -- i.e. the headers / footers for the left are consistent, but totally different than those on the right.  This is actually standard for almost all major tomes and books.

I also hesitate to run macros on the book after it is written.  In order to get the line alignment synchronized in each parallel column, all the formatting has to be done AS one is composing each page.  Any later formatting to throw the alignment off kills the entire concept.  The word processor needs to be aware that paragraphs or at least paragraph numbers need to be synchronized across all parallel columns.  i.e. they align in sync.
what DTP are you thinking of?
Pagestream ... haven't used it. on wish list. but looks pretty good. apparently much more fully featured than quark or pagemaker. and not incredibly dear


Another way to deal with this would be to treat the pages as A3 landscape as it sounds to me that this is the way that the information on the pages is laid out.  WordPerfect would be able to handle that, even with the Headers and Footers.
a3 landscape. hmmm.  interesting idea, but it doesn't seem to solve the critical issue of different format for odd/even pages. unless you could make each page a column and format column .. no it doesn't seem to really be able to achievewhat you need.

now WP also has a subdividfe page feature but again i can't see how you could apply that to solve your original problem.

of course maybe teh easiest way is to do as two docs (one for odd one for even)? this would defibnitely odd/even page format issues, but wouldcreate a new issue with page numbers .. which maybe would be solveable when we looked into page no & printing options ... actually you could fudge page numbers by NOT using the default WP page numbers but inserting a formula in the header or footer that incremented by 2.


don card
I thought of the landscape idea, but the problem is in printing -- since the book will be 8.5 x 11" format, it has to be printed on letter paper.  Laying it out on 11x17" size would solve the screen issue immediately, because you have a single landscape page with 4 columns and you would have to be able to split the headers / footers into a left-right side -- but it could potentially work.  However, the consequences to printing are unimaginably complex from that point on.  On the back of Page 1 paper must be page 2, and it is not possible to do this with 11x17 or A3 landscape mode as I see it.

Also, the 2 file idea (odd-even) created a real problem in viewing on screen -- two separate windows that are overlapping -- and I simply could not compose and edit the pages as coordinated and scrolling together.  The 4 column, 1 page idea might work, if I can solve the printing problem, but I see no way to print the left half of a page and then the right as the next page, do you?

As for wordperfect, I tried this program and found it had major flaws in carrying parallel columns down a LOT of pages -- it became almost unusable, because any slight change, and all the layout was corrupted or lost for good.  I would like to move beyond WordPerfect -- I found it not up to the job of a big book.  In contrast, Lotus Word Pro is -- but I still can't get the left page different than the right.  I tried Open Office, and it too could not differ left and right pages.  I hope a more advanced DTP can do it correctly, without the ordeal of setting every page up *individually*, like I had to do in Quark -- it was intolerably slow.

Surely others must have faced the same issue, as differing left and right pages is NORMAL for a great number of books.  I just don't see how they do it !!  Further ideas are gratefully appreciated.  I will try to check out pagestream today, if it is possible to preview it.
It depends how you're going to get it printed.  If you are using a third-party printing company that has knowledge of imposition software then they will be able to advise further on solving your problem.

Personally I would have thought WordPerfect should be up to the mark, I have clients who have used it for heavily cross-referenced tomes without any problem: maybe Parallel Columns is a specific area where there are a few bugs, but if the formatting is clean and straightforward - using Styles where possible - then it should be able to cope with 300 pages.  What version have you been using?  Have all the service patches been loaded up?  Does the pc have 4Gb RAM?  The document is stored locally?
just quickly, i have never had any problem with parallel cols, but i didn't try with 100 pages :-)
OK, you have both asked me to justify my WP comments, and that is fair enough, but it is really scratching the brain to remember the details.  Here goes.  The most disastrous thing I remember about WP 2 column layout is that the text is right at the border of the column box.  When I clicked on a new line, it moved the column layout completely, because I might have been on the layout line, not the text line (they are only 1 pixel apart on the screen).  The entire column layout moved.  I didn't notice as I typed.  Then I went back to the beginning of the document, and the 2 right columns had disappeared completely !!   I had to scrap 4 hours of editing and do it all again.  After doing this kind of nonsense time and time again, I realized that this program is ridiculous in not giving you a safety margin around the column frames.  

Also in all this hassle, I noticed that after 10 or 12 pages, the 4 column layout was lost.  I went into the reveal codes, and they had become scrambled somehow, but nothing I did, except paste text into one column.  Moreover, I could not set up different column layouts and different text for the odd pages and the even pages -- it did not recognize any difference in odd and even pages in parallel column layout.

I wasted almost a month at WP.  Finally I got so frustrated with the inability of the parallel columns to HOLD their damn position, that I said -- "This is idiotic -- there is no way a person can produce a full book with this kind of touchy, quirky program."  I dumped it, and I really won't go back to it to prove the point.

Start WP, and set up the left even pages with different layout that the right odd page numbers.  do 2 different columns on each page.  Paste totally different text in all columns, then change and edit it.  When you find out that everything goes to hell very quickly, you will see what I mean.  It is not up to the task.
I was using the latest WP12 at the time.
as i might not have said explcitly, as big a fan as i am of WP,  and allits great features/functions, it was never intended as a DTP tool.

it is a remarkable just waht it can do tio teh extent that it can and does substitute for DTP s/w in many cases, but at end of the day, it is stil not a DTP package, one simple example is that it can't do crop marks (i think :-) i am not upon latest versions) ...and probablemany other things in complex docs such as magasines and flyers and brochures (i woudl use Pagestream ... but i currently can't justify the cost for my limited use/need ... so if i don;t use WP (one probnelmwith WP is creating print ready docs fro printers ... i convert tio PDF but have problems with taht too ... so these days i just use publisher fopr flyers and such wher WP is just not flexibnle enough ... but is a long way from what you are tryig to do .. so i would again suggest that you look at Pagestream. the feature set seems very extensive and better than quark & pagemaker without the exorbinate cost


don card  
sorry they weren't able to help. at least it sounds like you got some support.

i'm not sure we're we got two before.

if you create two docs, you can display side by side.

don't have to use WP if a DTP app might be more suitable once yiou split

as far as i can tell, if you split into odd/even, the only issue you have to worry about is incrementing page numbers by 2? all other probs go away?

if splitting, WP doesn't synch doc scrolling, so somethmng that did would be helpful

(all this sounds like a good reason to have two dual monitors as well (or a very large one :-))


Hi scrathcyboy,
Please take a look at this article and give me some feedback as to what you think.
I personally like Adobe Indesign but have not attempted to customize it the way you explain in your OP so I don't know if it will cut it. I know you can download a full 30 trial from Adobe.... 
Bits ....
Thanks Bits ...

To be blunt, that author has the typical "microcosmic" view of a DTP person -- totally wrapped up in the microscopic issues of font appearance, spacing and kerning -- with NO idea whatsoever of the crucial productivity features necessary to produce large books efficiently.  His only justification for InDesign being better than Pagemaker is that the "fonts look better".  Big deal.  I have a different take -- Adobe abandoned Pagemaker development because they could not fix serious flaws in the program's use and installation.  Did they improve it with InDesign for large book production?  I don't know, you tell me.

I installed the entire CS suite once and found it fairly much inept at efficiently producing books without the type of microcosmic micromanagement that your author is immersed in.  Basically, if someone can tell me that InDesign will definitely do what I need done, then I will take a 2nd look, but if not, no.

How about Lotus WordPro?  I am SO close to getting a layout with that program, just can't get the parallel columns to flow down onto subsequent, alternating odd / even pages.  Any ideas?  Thx for input.
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another wild thought off top of head.

could you use the headers/footers feature in WP? ie create page size headers?

headers/footers allow you to place cols inside, and you can have 2 different headers (and footers) and apply them diferently, surpress and discontinue.

2nd thought i just had ..

...would the master document feature in WP help?

it enable you to create any number of subdocs and then merge them when you want to create & print complete doc

but no ... it wouldn't  enable merging with alternate pages :-((

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oops, I think I did this wrong.  Don Card and BitsBytesandMore were supposed to get 250 points each.  If you can fix this Vee_mod, please do, and thanks for your *great* help.  Cheerio.
thanks ... sorry that that couldn't come up with definitive solution :-((


don card
Sorry to hear that the "chat" with the app developer was not productive. Interesting exchange of opinions....... Thanks for the feedback... and the points!! I wasn't expecting them.
To Don Card, Bits ... and Vee Mod -- hey guys, there is nothing wrong with trying to overcome the lack of foresight with developers.  You guys ALL did a terrific job.  Bits, that "app developer" was just another one of the mindless ones who cannot see the whole picture.  Maybe as this thread goes into the EE database, perhaps in time, some new WP or DTP developer will say -- of course!! -- it is obvious!! -- these people were ahead of their time, and they showed us where all of our products have been lacking !!!

I have found that one of the GREAT tests of EE is that it's database goes down into history, so to speak, and some day in the future, someone with the smarts it takes will read this, and they will realize .....

So you'all have a good day and realize, that you are all a part of history ... if it is to unfold correctly ........
Hi scrathcyboy (and others!):

Just popping in here as this link was sent to me by a friend.  I work extensively with Word (and I used to work extensively with WordPerfect).  I have not used the other products mentioned in this post however.

There are several different ideas on parallel columns which I will post links to here:

However, my first gut impression was to either follow the Suzanne Barnhill advice and use frames, or use Word tables.  Neither of these are ideal and I played around with some formatting in Word on my own.  I don't know how this would be accomplished without manual intervention... that is, inserting appropriate section breaks for each page....

I know I am not really adding anything new here - just my two cents and the links above for what it's worth.  I was able to create different formats, columns, headers, footers, and headings spanning columns for each right/left page without much effort in Word 2003.  But as I said, manual intervention of inserting section breaks and applying styles to each paragraph (which I use in any event) would be time-consuming.

JOrzech -- that is the problem with everything, word processors and DTPs alike.  They all seem to force you to do this EVERY page, which is intolerable for a long book.  This is because the developers are stuck on the mentality of newspaper wrapping of columns -- I venture to say that none of them have ever worked with a big book of 4 parallel texts.  If they had, they would realize how OBVIOUS is the page flow (i.e. the page flow that 4 parallel columns REQUIRES !!)  Had they done this they would realize how single-minded and lacking are their programs, in not automating this page flow, like they automate newspaper style.

Unable to find a WP to wrap even page columns to even pages, and odd to odd, I then turned to DTPs, in particular the two recommended in this thread -- Indesign, and Page Stream.  Both are incapable of allowing you to create a 4 column 2-page layout and having that layout automatically persist from one page pair to the next.  The latter P.S. I would not recommend to anyone, and the former I.D. is supposed to be one of the top DTPs around, and it is STILL stuck in a forced newspaper column mentality.

Lack of foresight, lack of clear thinking, lack of understanding of the needs of parallel texts -- the result is a unified stereotypedness of ALL WPs and DTPs -- blindly that all columns MUST wrap left to right.  Guess these people have never even traveled to the East, where that mentality is NONSENSE !!!

I won't be making any more comments on this thread, so no need to reply.  I am moving on beyond this moronic mentality and will find a way to solve the problem no matter what.  So thanks and good bye.
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I'm sorry that I am unable to communicate effectively with you, but no matter how lacking my commincation skills, that does not diminish PageStream's features or functionality. My desire to be clear about things may very well have muddied the waters. Even now I want to write more to try and be precise, but I will resist.

PageStream _IS_ capable of doing this layout automatically. Yes, you have to create a template, but the design time was measured in minutes, and the time to create a 380 page book using this template was less than 5 minutes. Once the template is created, you never have to do it again. Had it been a common layout, the template would have existed already.

I'm sorry we started off on the wrong foot, and that wrong may not be correctable, but please consider this an honest olive branch.