This article reports a method to determine the storey-wise column size for displacement-based design of reinforced concrete frame buildings with a wide range of storey drift and building plan. The method uses a computer program based algorithm. The basic relation used in the algorithm is formulated by considering the various possible deformation components involved in the overall frame deformation. As a necessity to represent the deformation component due to plastic rotation of beam members, a relation between the beam plastic rotation and the target-drift is adopted. To control the dynamic amplification of interstorey drift, a target-drift dependant design-drift reduction factor is used. The dynamic amplification of column moment is accounted with the help of an approximate conversion of fundamental period of the building from the effective period of the equivalent SDOF system. To avoid the formation of plastic hinge in column members, a design-drift dependant column–beam moment capacity ratio is used. The method successfully determines the storey-wise column size for buildings of four plans of different varieties, heights up to 12 storeys and target-drift up to 3%. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.