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: Controlling Widows and Orphans.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 4, 2017)
In typographical terminology, widows and orphans are closely related (no pun intended). These terms refer to one (and sometimes two) lines of a paragraph left by itself on a page. A widow is the last line of a paragraph left by itself at the top of a page; an orphan is the first line of a paragraph left by itself at the bottom of a page. You will want to avoid both widows and orphans in your documents, as they break up the flow of the text and tend to distract the reader.
Word allows you to automatically control single-line widows and orphans in your documents. To control widows and orphans in your documents, follow these steps:
Figure 1. The Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog box.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12695) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Controlling Widows and Orphans.
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