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: Changing Sections.

Changing Sections

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 12, 2022)

Word allows you to divide a document into different layout areas called sections. Each section can be set up so that it starts on a new page, odd page, even page, or is continuous. (Display the Layout tab of the ribbon and then click the Insert Page and Section Breaks tool to see what types of section breaks are available.)

When you first start using sections, they might seem a bit confusing. For instance, you may have a document in which you have multiple sections, some formatted as Continuous breaks and other as New Page breaks. If you later delete some of your section breaks, it may seem that the section formatting is getting messed up. This is particularly true if you delete the last section break you find in a document.

Why this is happening is best explained by an example. Let's say you have a document in which there are three sections:

  • Section 1 is formatted as New Page
  • Section 2 is formatted as Continuous
  • Section 3 is formatted as New Page

You must remember that the formatting for each section is maintained in the section breaks at the end of each section. This might seem odd, since you can only see two section breaks in the document, even though there are three sections. In the example document, the following is true:

  • The formatting for Section 1 (New Page) is in the first section break.
  • The formatting for Section 2 (Continuous) is in the second section break.
  • The formatting for Section 3 (New Page) is in the implied section break that is always at the end of a document.

Note that there is an implied section break at the end of the document. This section break is not visible, of course, but it is nonetheless there, and contains formatting for the final section.

When you position your insertion point just before the second section break and press the Delete key, the section break is deleted. This deletes the section formatting for the second section, and the text in that section automatically is formatted according to what was in the third section. Thus, you end up with two sections, as follows:

  • Old Section 1 (New Page)
  • New Section 2 (old Section 3, still New Page)

It is easy to think that Word changed your Continuous section to a New Page section, but in reality, Word did exactly what you told it to do: delete the second section. There really is no way to delete the final section (the implied section that is always there) in a document. Instead, you must change the formatting of that section so it reflects what you want.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9858) 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: Changing Sections.

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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