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Missing Page Break Indicator

Jesse uses Word in Draft view. In most documents when he inserts a page break by hitting Ctrl-Enter it appears as a visible line across the page with the words "page break" in the line. This is normal. In some documents, however, hitting Ctrl+Enter simply skips a line and there's no indication a page break has been inserted. If Jesse then hits Backspace, the page break line appears in the skipped line. Jesse wonders what is causing the Backspace to be required to see the page break.

Jesse has noticed one of the odd behaviors of the newest versions of Word. When you insert a page beak in your document, what you see depends on whether you have non-printing characters displayed on the screen or not. Try this out:

  1. Open a new document.
  2. Make sure you are viewing the document in Draft view.
  3. Type =rand() and press Enter. Word inserts several paragraphs of text in your document.
  4. Make sure that non-printing characters are not displayed on your screen. (Just press Shift+Ctrl+8 as many times as necessary to hide the display of the non-printing characters.)
  5. Put the insertion point at the beginning of the second paragraph and press Ctrl+Enter to add a page break.

At this point, you should see no indication that a page break has been inserted in the document, other than a "skipped" line, which Jessie referred to. With your insertion point still at the beginning of that second paragraph, press the Backspace key. You will then see the traditional margin-to-margin page break indication appear.

Now, immediately press Ctrl+Z to undo the effects of pressing Backspace. Now go ahead and turn on the display of all non-printing characters in the document. (Again press Shift+Ctrl+8.) When you do, you should see the page break indicator appear. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Page break indicators in a Word document

Note that the indicator does not extend across the whole page and it also includes a paragraph mark at the right side. If you again press Backspace (assuming your insertion point is at the left side of the screen), then the old-style indicator (margin-to-margin) again appears.

What you've done when you hit Backspace is to delete the paragraph mark. In the latest versions of Word, every time you insert a page break, it places that page break in its own paragraph. The inserted paragraph uses the Normal style. The deletion gets rid of the paragraph mark, but leaves the page break, which is displayed in the traditional way that page breaks are displayed.

If you prefer that Word behave in the old-style way (where it doesn't add page breaks on their own paragraph, but instead puts them in the paragraph in which the insertion point is located), then follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Page Layout options. (It is at the very bottom of the dialog box; you will need to click the arrow at the left side of the options to see them all.)
  4. Make sure the Split Apart Page Break and Paragraph Mark check box is selected.
  5. Click OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10621) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010.

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Comments for this tip:

Bjk    31 Jul 2014, 15:37
I have Word 2013 - Office and Home...I can get to the Compatibility Options, but I don't see a box...or any box under it...stating anything about split apart page break and paragraph mark there. I can see this on my Office 2010 Professional...but not on Office 2013 Home and Office. What am I doing wrong? Thank you!
JM    25 Feb 2014, 05:59
Great - thanks! In Word 2013 the box is under File > Options > Advanced > Compatibility Options.

After years of being using to seeing where my page breaks are in draft view, Word 2013 was killing me. Why on earth did they hide this away?
Mark Stewart    08 Sep 2012, 19:35
How to make visible ONLY one non-printing character "page break" ONLY.

·····Page Break·····¶
Nancy    20 Feb 2012, 13:40
THANK YOU!!!! We were struggling with this problem and had discovered (by accident) the backspace workaround. Now if we can only figure out how to get Word to save the change we made in the layout options....Leave it to Microsoft to cause this bug in draft view. I'm sure they think it's a feature.
Evil Overlord    10 Feb 2012, 05:04
Thanks for this tip. I actually like the fact that page breaks get their own paragraph mark (avoids a mess in outline view, among other things), but I hate the fact that new page breaks are invisible.

It seems that "show all formatting marks" controls making the page break visible, but that setting that also shows spaces, no matter what the "show spaces" setting is. That's probably more distracting than useful.

Any thoughts on how to show page breaks but not spaces?

PS Why did MS make it so hard to get to the options in Word 2007 and 2010?

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