Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Preventing Straggling Heads.

Preventing Straggling Heads

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 23, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

There are certain paragraphs that naturally belong with another paragraph. For instance, section headings belong with the paragraphs that follow them, a signature line belongs with the explanation line that may be after it, and a figure belongs with the caption that may follow it. Word makes it easy to keep certain paragraph pairings together. To format paragraphs so they stay together, use the following steps:

  1. Position the insertion point in the first paragraph of the pair you want to keep together.
  2. Make sure the Home of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  4. Display the Line and Page Breaks tab. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Keep with Next check box is selected.
  7. Click on OK.

You should use this setting sparingly, as you don't want all your paragraphs to have this setting turned on. Plus, don't use it on paragraphs that contain a lot of lines--keeping a 12-line paragraph with the following 15-line paragraph that follows it may seem like a good idea, but it can lead to having a very large amount of white space left at the end of a page as Word moves the two long paragraphs to the following page.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7118) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Preventing Straggling Heads.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is eight more than 2?

2023-09-25 09:45:40

Joan Koskela

I have used this feature for many, many years. It is also helpful for keeping a paragraph with a following numbered or bulleted list. If the list is short, I add it to all except the last line so it all stays together. If the list is longer, I only add it to the first two items so at least two items stay at the bottom of a page, similar to the widow/orphan command keeps at least two rows of a paragraph on either the bottom and/or top of pages.

This also works for keeping table rows from splitting across pages. Again, you can use this for a short table to keep it all together (in all but the last row) or, if you have a few rows of a table with information that "goes together," to keep those table rows together while still allowing the table to split before or after. (Be sure to use the "Repeat Header Rows" command!)


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