iPadOS 14: How to Fix iPad Books 2-Column Issue

Books App in iPadOS 14 with 2-column view on the left and 1-column view on the right

Apple’s Books app in iPadOS OS 13 and iPadOS 14 has an interesting interface quirk that can display your book’s text in two narrow columns like a newspaper. Maybe you like reading your books in newspaper columns, but if you’re like me you went scrambling to figure out where the heck that preference setting is—and then found there isn’t one.

Fortunately, it’s a quick fix. Just increase the font size. That’s the fast and dirty answer for you, and if that’s all you want, you don’t need to read the rest of this Quick Tip. But, if you want to understand what’s going on, please read on for the details!

In the image above, the 2-column view in Books app is shown on the left, while the same page in 1-column view is shown on the right.

Books App Shows Text in Two Columns

I personally encountered this when I updated my iPad Pro 11-inch (2020) to iPadOS 14. For whatever reason, when I opened my book after the upgrade to iPadOS 14 I found it showing the book’s text in two columns in both portrait and landscape mode. I dug and dug and couldn’t find a preference for “Make My Book As Annoying to Read as a Newspaper,” and I was getting pissy about it.

Then I Googled, and it took a surprising amount of digging to find that the Books app automatically goes into 2-column view when your text is set to the smallest font size. Simply increasing the font  size will put your book back into a single, book-sized column. For the life of me I can’t imagine why I’d want my book to be displayed like a newspaper for any reason, but whatever, it’s a quick fix.

Please note that I hadn’t changed my book to show the smallest font size—this was something that happened as part of my iPad’s upgrade process.

How to Change the Font Size in Books App in iPadOS 14 (and Earlier Versions)

To change the font size in the Books app in iPadOS 14 (and before), tap on the AA button in the top right corner of any open book, as shown in the image below. If you don’t see the AA button, tap your screen anywhere—once—and it will appear.

Books app in iPadOS 14 with font control panel shown
Books app in iPadOS 14 with font control panel shown

Once you have the font control panel open, tap the A on the right side to increase your font size. If you’re in 2-column view, tapping the left A won’t do anything. Otherwise, you can tap the left A to decrease your font size.

Other controls include changing the paper and font color (the four circles), Auto-Night Theme, which will automatically reverse your page and text color in low-light environments, and Vertical Scrolling. The last allows you to scroll up and down through your book instead of flipping the page left to right. You can also control your screen brightness and choose a different font.

And that’s it! It’s a fast solution if you know what you’re looking for, but if you don’t, there are simply no indicators in the Books app or iPadOS to clue you in.

One thought on “iPadOS 14: How to Fix iPad Books 2-Column Issue

  • Thank you for explaining how to enlarge the font after the upgrade. However, I still have a problem with the change itself. It appears the threshold for when 2-columns is turned on and when 1-column is turned off has moved. I had my fonts set to a point where it was just the right size to read but not at 2-columns. After the upgrade, I have to enlarge the font to get to 1-column. I really don’t like the 2-columns because it distorts illustrations and charts. I read a lot technical books on my iPad Pro. I want to control when 2-columns are turned on! I would prefer an option that says 1 or 2 columns regardless of the size of the font. This and past changes by Apple is pushing me away. After this upgrade, I have pushed off my purchase of a new iPad and looking closer at Kindle.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.