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Is it possible to use the columns environment inside a normal document? Up to now I only used it in the beamer environment where it turned out pretty handy.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Multi-column support in "normal" documents are default. For example, add the [twocolumn] option to your document class specification (in the standard document classes):

\documentclass[twocolumn]{<class>}

The layout resembles the following:

enter image description here

\documentclass[twocolumn]{article}
\usepackage{lipsum}% http://ctan.org/pkg/lipsum
\begin{document}
\section{First section} \lipsum[1-2]
\section{Second section} \lipsum[3-4]
\section{Third section} \lipsum[5-6]
\section{Last section} \lipsum[7-8]
\end{document}

This will provide a two-column layout. More than two columns is possible using the multicol package and using the multicols environment:

\begin{multicols}{<col nums>}
  %...
\end{multicols}

The layout resembles the following:

enter image description here

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{lipsum}% http://ctan.org/pkg/lipsum
\usepackage{multicol}% http://ctan.org/pkg/multicol
\begin{document}
\begin{multicols}{3}
\section{First} \lipsum[1-2]
\section{Second} \lipsum[3-4]
\section{Third} \lipsum[5-6]
\section{Last} \lipsum[7-8]
\end{multicols}
\end{document}

Dummy text is provided by lipsum.

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