Doric, Ionic and Corinthian are all popular styles of decorative concrete columns. All three column styles are composed of capitals and shafts, but the shape, orientation and details of those elements differ greatly.
Doric columns have plain capitals composed of a circle with a square on top. The broad shaft is fluted, with 20 sides. Popular examples of Doric columns include the Lincoln Memorial and the Parthenon.
Ionic columns are taller, more slender and more ornate than Doric columns. Unlike the plain capitals of the Doric style, Ionic columns have elaborate, scroll-shaped ornaments on the capital. Ionic columns also have bases that resemble stacked rings, unlike the Doric style, which do not have bases. Both styles feature fluted shafts. The Jefferson Memorial features Ionic columns.
Corinthian columns feature ornate capitals meant to resemble flowers and leaves, below a small scroll. The base is similar to the Ionic column, and the shaft is also fluted. The New York Stock Exchange building features Corinthian columns. Both Ionic and Corinthian columns use a process known as entasis to make them look straight when viewed from eye level.
Composite columns combine the features of two or more different styles, such as Corinthian capitals combined with Ionic shafts. Tuscan columns resemble Doric columns but feature smooth shafts. The simple Tuscan style appears on many 20th and 21st century homes.