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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.

These steps only work in Word 2007 and Word 2010. In Word 2013 Microsoft did a major overhaul on the way it displays documents and removed many of what were previously considered compatibility options. In Word 2013 there is no option to turn off "split apart page break and paragraph mark." It is always on and thus Microsoft removed the check box. The technique described earlier (pressing the Backspace key to delete the paragraph mark) still works in Word 2013, however.

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, 2010, and 2013.

Related Tips:

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Comments for this tip:

frank anderson    09 Jul 2015, 11:07
Very helpful. Do you suppose that there is a way to make the
-------page break------
red so that it will stand out when tagged to the end of a tight sentence?

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