Page Layouts, Columns and Sections

The layout of your pages can have a big impact on how they're read, and layouts, used well, allow you to position text, images, macros, charts, and much more, to have the best visual impact.

There are two ways to modify the layout of a Confluence page:

  • Use page layouts to add sections and columns
  • Use macros to add sections and columns.

Page layouts provide a simple, visual representation of your page layout in the editor, while the macros are more flexible and allow for greater complexity in your layout.

On this page:

Use page layouts

The page layouts tool allows you to structure your page using horizontal sections and vertical columns. By adding multiple sections with different column configurations you can build quite complex layouts very easily.

Screenshot: Editor view of a page showing three sections with different column configurations. 

Start by adding a horizontal section to your page. 

To add a section:

  1. Choose the Page Layout  button in the toolbar
    The Page Layout toolbar appears.
  2. Choose Add Section

The new section appears below your current content, with the boundaries of the section(s) indicated by dotted lines (the dotted lines aren't visible when you view the page).

To change the column layout in a section:

  1. Place your cursor in the section you wish to change
  2. Choose a layout from the page layout toolbar (for example, two columns or three columns)

Any text, images or macros in your section are not lost when you change the column layout. When you decrease the number of columns, Confluence will move your content to the left. When you increase the number of columns, Confluence will add blank columns to the right of your existing content. 

To move a section to another part of the page:

  1. Place your cursor in the section you wish to move
  2. Choose the Move up or Move down buttons

The section and all of its content will be moved above or below other sections on the page. 

To delete a section:

  1. Place your cursor in the section you wish to remove
  2. Choose Remove section

The section and all of its content will be removed. 

Notes about Page Layouts

  • Column width – The width of the columns are fixed. If you need more than three columns, or columns of a specific width, you should use the Section and Column macros described below. 
  • Very wide tables – The width of each column is set to a percentage of the page width. The icons in the drop-down menu indicate the relative widths for each layout. In most cases, Confluence will adapt the width of the columns to fit the width of the page. If a column includes an item that's too wide for it, you'll see a horizontal scroll bar when viewing the page.

The Section and Column macros

You can use the Section and Column macros to add a set of columns to the page. The Section macro defines an area that will contain the columns. You can have as many sections as you like. Within each section, you can have as many columns as you like.

The Section and Column macros are useful if you want to define a specific percentage or pixel width for each column. 

To add a section and some columns to a page:

  1. In the Confluence editor, choose Insert > Other Macros
  2. Find the Section macro, select it and insert it onto the page
  3. Choose Insert > Other Macros again
  4. Find and insert the Column macro
  5. Add your content to the column

Insert as many columns as you like within the section.

You should always have at least one column macro within a section macro. Using a section macro without any column macros can negatively affect page loading time.

Screenshot: A section and two columns in the editor

When you see the page in view mode, the above layout is displayed like this:

Content for column 1 goes here

Content for column 2 goes here

Macro parameters

  Parameters are options that you can set to control the content or format of the macro output. Where the parameter name used in Confluence storage format or wikimarkup is different to the label used in the macro browser, it will be listed below in brackets (example).

Parameters of the Section macro




Show Border


Select this option to draw a border around the section and columns.

Note: Without a Column macro , the border will not be displayed correctly.

Parameters of the Column macro




Column Width

100% of the page width, divided equally by the number of columns in the section.

Specify the width of the column, in pixels (for example, 400px) or as a percentage of the available width (for example, 50%).

All content within your section must be enclosed within a Column macro, otherwise the section layout will not work as expected.

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42 Archived comments

  1. User avatar

    Mark Mackay

    Is there a way to customise/add 'page layouts' ?

    11 Apr 2012
    1. User avatar

      William Wolff-Myren

      This might not be the best approach, but I've found that this works for me...

      Add the code below to the Look and Feel > Stylesheet section in Administration:

      The above code will set the width of the left column in a left-sidebar page layout to 250px. (That style defaults to a width of 29.9%, if I remember correctly.)

      11 Apr 2012
  2. User avatar


    It would be nice to be able to specify prinatable state for a section or a code block as these may contain information that you either don't want to share with some audiences.

    15 Jul 2012
  3. User avatar


    i want to create a space template using page layouts - how can i find out the wiki markup for those page layouts? thx a lot!!

    10 Sep 2012
    1. User avatar

      Mark Hrynczak [Atlassian]

      There is no wiki markup equivalent for the page layouts. To use them in templates, you will need to upgrade to Confluence 4.3, which allows creation of templates using the new editor.

      11 Sep 2012
  4. User avatar


    How can I ensure that the page width will be printable?  Some of our wiki editors put in very wide images or tables. Is there a way to limit the width of the wiki page while it is being edited, to prevent folks from adding content that is too wide?

    29 Oct 2012
    1. User avatar

      Bill Arconati

      Have you tried exporting to PDF and then printing?

      09 Nov 2012
  5. User avatar

    Phil Gochenour

    I have a user who has managed to "stack" page layouts, by putting one three-column layout with headers and footers on top of another one. Is there a way to remove the extra layout elements from the page?



    23 Jan 2013
  6. User avatar


    Is there a way to SIMPLY set the columns in a table?  I see the page and columns but I have a table and need to fix the width of the columns.

    12 Feb 2013
  7. User avatar



    can we take more layouts inside one layout?. and what is the reason for getting exception like "Force close"?.

    03 May 2013
  8. User avatar

    Wesley Monroe

    How do you make a page like this one where the TOC is on the right, but after it, the content on the left spans the whole page?  I know you use a TOC macro, but do you use sections and column's for formatting?

    17 May 2013
    1. User avatar

      Sarah Maddox [Atlassian]

      Hallo Wesley

      Yes, we've used a Section macro and two Column macros for the top part of the page. The rest of the page, where it spans the entire page, is without Section/Columns.

      Hint: You can see the macros and other layout elements on this page, by choosing "Tools" > "View Source" at top right of the page.

      Cheers, Sarah

      17 May 2013
      1. User avatar

        Abhir Joshi

        How did you set the width of the entire page to fixed width centered in the browser?  I don't seem to figure out how to do that in my Confluence page.

        11 Apr 2014
        1. User avatar

          Rachel Robins [Atlassian Tech Writer]

          Hi Abhir, we've used some custom CSS on this space to achieve the fixed width, and centred layout.  See Styling Confluence with CSS.

          16 Apr 2014
  9. User avatar


    Hi there, I'm currently on Confluence 5.1.3 and I couldn't find the option to add or remove sections (no toolbar like in the first image). I understand that this section is for 5.2 but I was just curious if there's anyway to do that on 5.1.3. Thanks!

    11 Jul 2013
    1. User avatar


      Same here. Looks like the feature is gone. (sad)

      07 Aug 2013
    1. User avatar

      Bill Arconati

      Glad you like the feature! It's a new feature coming in Confluence 5.2 that's available in OnDemand today. Confluence 5.2 will be available for download very very shortly though. Some more information about page layout improvements...

      08 Aug 2013
  10. User avatar

    Jarred Cook


    We recently updated to 5.0.3 and I am having trouble with sections.

    When I use this macro it places a huge gap between the content of the section and the top of the page no matter what it looks like in the editor. Now I understand some of that gap can be attributed to the use of Heading 1 font stying on the first text in the section but is there anyway to reduce/remove the remaining gap?


    21 Jul 2013
  11. User avatar


    Can you tell me what layout this page is using?  Is the left nav built within the page? or is it a sidebar that you have stylized?

    23 Jul 2013
    1. User avatar


      NM   I see you used the "documentation" template.  thx


      23 Jul 2013
      1. User avatar



        29 Oct 2013
  12. User avatar

    aneesh ar

    Can anyone help me with this -

    I have two sections in my page , and i want to update only one section through a script , so how can i differentiate the two sections so that i can mention which section to be updated in my script

    05 Aug 2013
  13. User avatar

    Chris Kent


    I have Confluence 5.1.4 and I do not see this Page Layout tool that you speak of??? I really like this but can't find it? Is it in my version of Confluence? If so how do I find/Enable it?

    OK, so I just read the entire thread above and see it's not released until 5.2, which is not yet available (sad).  Since you already have it OnDemand, how about providing a plugin for us download users.  This feature will be a long way off for us!!! 

    09 Aug 2013
  14. User avatar

    Bill Arconati

    We normally provide a new feature like this as a plugin when we can. In this case the page layouts 2.0 requires core changes to the product so a full upgrade is necessary.

    09 Aug 2013
    1. User avatar

      Chris Kent

      Thanks, understood...

      When can we expect 5.2 to be released?

      09 Aug 2013
      1. User avatar

        Bill Arconati

        look for something next week.

        09 Aug 2013
        1. User avatar

          Chris Kent

          OK, Just installed 5.2.3 and very disappointed with page layout... It's not that much different to what was already there.  What I was hoping for was to create a 5 column page that was easy for people to add content to (make it a template), using Section and Column macros is just way to messy (not very WYSIWYG).

          I tried just using a Table, but because they auto size depending on content, the results for this purpose is hopeless.

          Help, what can I do???


          Is there any way to add customised sections to the tool (ie. a 5 column section)?

          Also I found this reference to a table-plus macro that used to exist - this would also do the trick for me, but what happened to it???

          14 Aug 2013
          1. User avatar

            John Masson

            Thanks for the feedback Chris. That's not something you can do at the moment unfortunately, but we might consider in the future.

            The Table plugin is available here on the Marketplace.

            14 Aug 2013
  15. User avatar

    Robin Rodrigue

    Adding sections and columns simply DOES NOT WORK when it comes to exporting. When using sections and columns and exporting to .pdf, the columns stack and words break in strange areas.  This does not happen when using the Page Layout option; however, the existing template column sizes are not conducive to suit my needs.

    27 Jan 2014
    1. User avatar

      Rachel Robins [Atlassian Tech Writer]

      Hi Robin, you're correct, the Page Layout method will correctly export to PDF.  Column and Section macros appear one after another (which can lead to confused content depending on how you've structured the content in your macros). 

      There is an issue here that you can follow about allowing column widths to be resized in page layouts  CONF-25519 - Page Layout Columns Should Be Resizable Open

      05 Feb 2014
      1. User avatar

        Robin Rodrigue

        Thank you for the feedback, Rachel. When using sections and columns, the columns layout/sizes remain the same 99.9% of the time throughout the entire page (text column, space column, image column); however, the PDF export ALWAYS stacks the text on top of the image.


        I will be sure to follow the JIRA issue.

        05 Feb 2014
  16. User avatar

    Edda Rós Þorsteinsdóttir

    I like working with the new sections, I think they offer a lot better possibility to make the pages clean. 

    My problem is that when I export the pages to .pdf I always get an empty page first if I have more than one section on the page. As long as there is only one section it is fine but if I add a second section the pdf output will give me an empty page in front of the content. 


    14 Feb 2014
    1. User avatar

      Rachel Robins [Atlassian Tech Writer]

      Hi Edda, are you exporting a single page to PDF or the whole space?  I have just tried this out and wasn't able to replicate your problem. 

      Some things to check:

      • If you're exporting the whole space, check if you have a customised PDF stylesheet - the customisations might be causing this to occur
      • Do you have macros or other content on the page that might be causing the page break? 

      If you have no luck with either of these, feel free to contact Support who will help you troubleshoot, or raise a bug here. 

      16 Feb 2014
  17. User avatar

    Jim Kennedy

    Also having issues trying to print three-column pages to page. I have used the page layout but the .pdf stacks, as described above. I have recreated the page using Sections and Columns, but same result. 

    What is the JIRA ticket I should be following?


    20 Feb 2014
    1. User avatar

      Robin Rodrigue

      CONF-25519 - Page Layout Columns Should Be Resizable Open

      20 Feb 2014
    1. User avatar

      Rachel Robins [Atlassian Tech Writer]

      Hi Jim, the issue with page layouts (using the page layout tool, not the section and column macros) not being maintained in PDF exports was fixed in Confluence 5.3.4. See  CONF-25240 - PDF export does not handle page layouts Resolved

      Does the content of any of your columns exceed the width of the column? For example a large image or macro that might cause the column to scroll horizontally?  This might affect the output in the PDF. 

      If you continue to have problems please raise an issue so our developers can look into it. 

      Note: using the section and column macros will always result in a 'stacked' output in your PDF. 

      20 Feb 2014
  18. User avatar

    Mary-Jane Smyth

    As floats function in the PDF export, a possible workaround to section/column formatting problems in older versions of Confluence may be to create a column layout using floats. You would need to be able to work with HTML (e.g. div macro) and CSS. I tried this out by following a basic tutorial I found from a web search and I got three text columns on my page in my PDF export.

    26 Feb 2014
  19. User avatar

    Dawn Ross

    How do you get the wide empty margins on this page (and others like it?)

    23 May 2014
    1. User avatar

      Rachel Robins [Atlassian Tech Writer]

      Hi Dawn, we are using some custom CSS in this space to make the width of the content area only 900px wide. Find out more about Styling Confluence with CSS here. (custom CSS is not available for Confluence OnDemand, only for installed instances). 

      25 May 2014
  20. User avatar

    Jonathan Simonoff

    A problem has surfaced with Confluence 5.5 and some browsers (such as Firefox 31), where if you have a section without a column, the text inside is hidden.  Many of our users have done this (also used columns without sections, which I think still renders without problems). It would be good if the documentation was more explicit that sections must contain columns and columns must be in sections – I think it implies that now (I picked it up, though many of our users didn't or didn't read the docs), but I don't think it actually says they can't be used alone. 

    It would also be good if the code forced you to put a column in a section, or threw an error when you didn't.

    27 Aug 2014
  21. User avatar

    Tony Chung

    Is there a way to apply an ID or class to the rendered innerCell of a layout?

    13 Apr 2015
    1. User avatar

      Giles Brunning [Atlassian Technical Writer]

      Hi Tony,

      Not that I'm aware of, and, if you can, I don't think it would be supported.

      I tried with a source editor plugin, which is unsupported, but it removed the class when I applied the change.

      15 Apr 2015
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