Missing Page Break Indicator

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 2, 2015)

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.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Searching for Paragraph Formatting

You can use the Find and Replace capabilities of Word to search for a wide variety of information. One thing you can look for ...

Discover More

Running a Macro when a Worksheet is Deactivated

When you change from one worksheet to another, you may want to have Excel automatically run a macro for the worksheet you are ...

Discover More

Noting When a Workbook was Changed

Do you need to know when a workbook was last changed? There are a couple of ways you can go about keeping track of the change ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

MORE WORDTIPS (RIBBON)

Default Font for Page Numbers

Page numbers are a common addition to documents, and a great aid to readers. If you want to easily format page numbers, you ...

Discover More

No Space Before at the Top of a Page

Want to make sure that Word handles space before a paragraph correctly when the paragraph is at the top of a page? Check the ...

Discover More

Odd Page Numbers Disappearing

Page numbers in printed pages are often a necessary part of formatting a document. What do you do if your printed output ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share