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My article requires that I put the title and a small abstract spanning the left 2 columns in a 3-column page, that is, the 3rd column to the right of the title/summary block must follow with the body text from the second column at the end of the page. I'm using multicol package. This problem is easy and has been solved for 2-column page, either with twocolumn option in \documentclass or multicol.

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Do you have to use multicol or is an alternative also sufficient? –  Werner Nov 9 '12 at 4:06
    
Not specifically; I may try an alternative as long as it does a neat job. –  mp1508 Nov 9 '12 at 4:35
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1 Answer

The flowfram package allows for this sort of thing without much problem. The following is taken partially from Three-columns text with figures of 2\columnwidth:

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\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[landscape,margin=1cm]{geometry}% http://ctan.org/pkg/geometry
\usepackage{flowfram}% http://ctan.org/pkg/flowfram
\usepackage{lipsum}% http://ctan.org/pkg/lipsum

% First page setup    
\newstaticframe[1]{0.65\textwidth}{0.35\textheight}
  {0pt}{0.65\textheight}[titleabstract]
\newflowframe[1]{0.30\textwidth}{0.65\textheight}
  {0pt}{0pt}[shortleftcolumn]
\newflowframe[1]{0.30\textwidth}{0.65\textheight}
  {0.35\textwidth}{0pt}[shortcentercolumn]

% Subsequent pages setup    
\newflowframe[2-30]{0.30\textwidth}{\textheight}
  {0pt}{0pt}[leftcolumn]
\newflowframe[2-30]{0.30\textwidth}{\textheight}
  {0.35\textwidth}{0pt}[centercolum]
\newflowframe{0.30\textwidth}{\textheight}
  {0.7\textwidth}{0pt}[rightcolumn]

\begin{document}

\begin{staticcontents*}{titleabstract}
\begin{center}
  {\Large\bfseries This is the title\par}
  A.\ N.\ Author \par
  \today
\end{center}

\begin{abstract}
\lipsum[1]
\end{abstract}
\end{staticcontents*}

\lipsum[1-30]

\end{document}

The title and abstract is contained within the first \newstaticframe called titleabstract, which has a height of 0.35\textheight. If you which to add more content, you may have to increase this, and decrease the height of shortleftcolumn and shortcentercolumn.

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This one does the job, but is there a more generic way to do it, as in it calculates the textwidth and textheight automatically based on the number of columns it should span? Put another way, how to make a text block span n columns in an m-column page layout (using multicol if still possible)? –  mp1508 Nov 10 '12 at 15:35
    
@mp1508: Not that I know of. Although it might be possible to calculate the height of the abstract and use that to determine the height of the abstract static frame, you'd still have to manually figure out the shorter/taller columns on the first page. –  Werner Dec 5 '12 at 4:11
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