Our catalog is in an absurdly big table. It lists hundreds of parts, most of which have subcomponents. Each part takes up a row, and if there are subcomponents, the part is in a vertically merged cell, so that all the subcomponents are "under" it. Anyway, all was well until I was putting the finishing touches on the catalog. Then Word 2000 locked up, "experienced an error," and exploded the catalog into virtual shrapnel.
I'm guessing you touched on a sensitive nerve in Word 2000's handling of tables that have vertically merged cells (two or more cells in the same column merged together vertically) spanning two or more pages. Such cells make tables a minefield that you can set off by doing something as innocuous as moving from page to page in Print Layout view.
The fix is to update to the latest Office 2000 Service Pack you can find, or to update to a later version of Office.
Create Newspaper-Style Columns
More of a grumble, really: text in columns is difficult to control, and there aren't many changes you can make to the settings to make the text look the way you want.
It could be worse. The Columns dialog box (Format » Columns) lets you choose the number of columns; control the width of each column, and the spacing between it and the column to its right; and choose whether to put a line between each column. If you're looking for more complex effects, you should probably be using a page-layout application rather than Word. But if you're stuck with Word, try the following:
Use heading styles and text styles as usual to differentiate the paragraphs in your columns.
To end a column early, choose Insert » Break, select the "Column break" option, and click the OK button.
Use a text box overlapping one or more columns to add variety or impact to your layout.
You can insert a picture in a column as usual (Insert » Picture » From File), and you can wrap text around it or even run text through it.
To put a table in a column, choose Table » Insert Table, as usual.