Columnize creates a newspaper-like column layout. The original HTML code only needs small adaptions. In most cases, it is not necessary to adapt the HTML code at all.
Using the plugin is easy:

  1. $("#text").columnize(); 

sets the contents of the DOM node with the ID ›text‹ in a two-column layout with balanced column lengths.


The plugin recognizes several options which are denoted in curly brackets.

  • balance: ›true‹ if the column lengths should be balanced. ›false‹ if the columns should grow to the height of the containing element. Default: ›true‹
  • cache: The original contents of the container are cached. Set this to ›false‹ to disable caching. Default: ›true‹
  • column: The CSS class which should be applied to columns. Default: ›column‹
  • columns: The desired number of columns if balance mode is on. Default: ›2‹
  • continued: The CSS class which should be applied to DOM nodes which are continued in the next column. Default: ›continued‹
  • dontsplit: A jQuery selector string specifying the elements which should not be split over columns. Default: ›‹ (an empty string)
  • height: The maximum height of the columns. This is usually read from the max-height CSS value of the container, but can be set here explicitely. Default: none.
  • minHeight: The minimal height of the columns. Default: none.


If balance mode is off, the element to which the column layout should be applied has to define a maximum height via the CSS property ›max-height‹. The columns will then grow to at most this height.

If balance mode is on, the maximum height is taken into account, too. If balancing the column lengths would exceed the maximum height the plugin automatically disables balance mode. In this case, the plugin creates more columns than specified in the columns option.

The column width is derived from the CSS properties of the columns. You can control the width using the CSS class specified in the columns option.. Typical properties for a column are the following:

  1. floatleft
  2. width200px
  3. margin-right1em

For a beautiful layout it is recommended to use the CSS property ›line-height‹. By setting the line height explicitly and calculate all vertical distances as multiples of the line height you ensure that all baselines are aligned to the same grid.

If you want to prevent nodes from being split at a column break, add the CSS class ›dontsplit‹ to them, or add the element name to the ›dontsplit‹ option (e.g. {dontsplit: "h1,p,li"}).


  • $("#text").columnize({columns: 3});
    Three columns with balanced column lengths.
  • $("#text").columnize({columns: 3, balanced: false});
    Three columns with balanced column lengths if the column lengths do not exceed the maximum height of the containing element. In this case, the plugin abandons the limitation to three columns and creates as many columns as needed for the text.
  • $("#text").columnize({balanced: false});
    Columns grow until the maximum height of the containing element. The number of columns is determined by the amount of text.


Columnize is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Columnize and Columnizer

There is another plugin called Columnizer () which does pretty much the same task as Columnize. They differ in the layout algorithm used, and also slightly in the available options.

Since Columnize is a compilation of code I have already used for a couple of months in different projects (at a time where Columnizer was not yet released), Columnize was not written to compete with Columnizer. Funny enough, I initially wanted to release Columnize on 2008-07-18, but then the plan was delayed for over a month so Columnizer was there first.

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