Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting.

Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)


Word allows you to format your documents on three general levels: sections, paragraphs, and characters. Of the three, section formatting is often the most confusing formatting for people to understand. Other issues of WordTips detail how you can insert section breaks and apply section formatting.

If you have worked with sections before, you already know that if you delete a section break, the text before the break then adopts the section formatting characteristics of the section after the break. This may be what you want, but it can also be a pain if you want to delete the final section break in a document and you don't want the previous text to lose its section formatting.

Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic way to delete section breaks and maintain the formatting represented by that break. There is a workaround you can use, however:

  1. Place the insertion point at the end of the document, just after the final section break.
  2. If the section break just before the insertion point is a Continuous section break, press Ctrl+Enter to insert a page break.
  3. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  4. Click the Header tool in the Header & Footer group, and then click Edit Header. The header is displayed and the insertion point is within it.
  5. Make sure the Link to Previous control is selected for both the header and footer. (You can switch between the header and footer by using the Go To Footer tool and the Go To Header tool.) This ensures that the final section in the document has the same header and footer as the section just before it.
  6. Click the Close Header and Footer tool.
  7. Place the insertion point just before the final section break.
  8. Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon.
  9. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Page Setup group. Word displays the Page Setup dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  10. Figure 1. The Page Setup dialog box.

  11. Immediately press Enter or click on OK.
  12. Place the insertion point just after the final section break.
  13. Press F4. Word applies to the last section the Page Setup formatting that you accepted in step 10 for the next-to-last last section.
  14. If there are no differences in column formatting between the two final sections, you can skip to step 20.
  15. Place the insertion point just before the final section break.
  16. Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon.
  17. Click the Columns tool in the Page Setup group and then click More Columns. Word displays the Columns dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  18. Figure 2. The Columns dialog box.

  19. Immediately press Enter or click on OK.
  20. Place the insertion point just after the final section break.
  21. Press F4. Word applies to the last section the column formatting that you accepted in step 17 for the next-to-last section.
  22. Select and delete the final section break.
  23. Select and delete the page break you inserted in step 2.

For more information on this and other issues relating to section breaks, visit this page at the Word MVP site:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9500) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting.

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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Comments for this tip:

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What is 9 - 7?

2017-01-18 16:11:19

Jeanne Perdue

Hallelujah, that worked!
Thanks for the valuable tip.

2017-01-09 00:18:35


Amazing... this guy has managed to master the beast that is Microsoft Word.

2016-10-10 10:28:26


I hereby make mine Ron Santos words: Thank you very much Allen! After much aggravation, I found your article here and it worked great for me. I do really appreciate your work and wish you great success.

2016-08-09 18:48:20


Fantastic! Worked perfectly! Thank you!

2016-07-18 17:23:16

Connie Goss

Thank you AGAIN, Allen. Somehow, no matter how obscure my problem is, you always have a solution. Thank you for keeping me from throwing my computer out the window :-)

2016-07-13 05:52:56

Garry Lelliott

Thank you Allen.

This bug in Word has infuriated me for years, but your solution worked a treat.

Maybe Microsoft will actually get round to fixing this unbelievably frustrating bug, but in the meantime I have added your site to the top of my favourites!

2016-05-20 15:57:00

Ron Santos

Thank you very much Allen! After much aggravation, I found your article here and it worked great for me.

2016-05-06 12:09:22


Good instructions, except be sure to click on Link to Previous twice such that the last section's header is permanently copied to that section; otherwise when you delete the section break/page break it will then "Link to Previous" and it will use the previous section's header!

2016-02-21 19:17:39


Fantastic thanks! It is a problem that has bugged me for years. Had to the the F4 steps a couple of times to make it work but did eventually.

2016-02-05 12:24:13


Thank you SO MUCH for this information - I have spent a lot of time this morning attempting to remove a pesky "Next Page Section Break" at the end of my document. Yours was the only help that worked!

2016-01-02 11:34:47

Bryan Williams

Microsoft keeps updating Word but this is more likely to remove functionality that they don't think is important, rather than improve the product. I wish they'd fix the damn section break issues. It's constant trial and error to replace a "next page" section break with a "continuous" section break, and by the time you've gotten the "next page" one removed, you've probably screwed up every header and footer in the document.. There has to be a more efficient way to do this!

2015-10-16 00:26:25


Thank you! This is very helpful. While it preserved my formatting, it did not preserve the text in my header.

I cannot believe that there is no other way to do this. Why won't Microsoft add this function? Terrible software design.

2015-09-29 05:58:25



Thanks so much for this, saved my day!

I had to do something additional to get this to work though. I found that when I went to finally delete the section break, if I still had the header and footed of the later section linked to the previous section, then I lost my headers and footers. To fix this, I de-linked them again just before deleting the section.


2015-06-26 16:49:10

RS Gray

Thank you! I am now the hero of the office (pardon the pun)!

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