Many scientists obtain papers in electronic format and read them on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone screen. In print, a two column layout looks great and is easier to read than a broad single column, but on any electronic device navigating over two columns is difficult and irritating.

So when I layout my own paper, should I lay it out in one or two columns?

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about writing.
    – user16226
    Dec 9, 2016 at 17:55
  • Hi, and welcome to Writers. Please take our tour and see our help center writers.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic to see what kinds of questions the community can help you with. Dec 9, 2016 at 18:16
  • Flavio, I edited your question to make it on topic for this site. If this edit does not reflect the aim of your question, roll back to your original version on this page: writers.stackexchange.com/posts/25496/revisions
    – user5645
    Dec 11, 2016 at 10:39
  • @what: Note that while the edited question may be on-topic and theoretically answerable, it is rather pointless as the format is dictated by the publisher, at least in all journals I am aware of.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 11, 2016 at 10:42
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    do both? i.e. have a original with some plain text markup (latex, org-mode, markdown, ...) and then export using two profiles? Dec 11, 2016 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


Publishers have traditionally used 2 column layout for printed articles. These have then been turned into pdfs.

Okay, nowadays, some things only appear electronically. However, you, me and most of the rest of the world find them hard to read even if using a large computer screen. Reading them on things like phones is difficult.

Therefore it makes sense to lay out your work in the most readable form. Why you would publish it in two columns is beyond me. Make it easy for the reader and then they are more likely to read, and cite, your work.

In answer to a comment: there are various pdf editors. However, I haven't found one that will accurately edit a pdf it didn't create unless the layout is very simple e.g. no header or footer, no page number, no title, only one column, etc. I usually find it is quicker to turn them into text and re-format, or just re-type the whole thing (something I do quite regularly).

  • I agree with S. Mitchell's comment. I read scientific papers with formulas. Unfortunately converting pdf with formulas is nowadays impossible. Dec 13, 2016 at 20:22

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