Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Avoiding a Section Break Booby Trap.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 1, 2020)
There's a "booby trap" when using section breaks that you may not be aware of. If you make a section break to create special page formatting and afterwards (for whatever reason) want to remove the section break, you could mess up the formatting of your document.
For instance, let's say you add a section break to your document, and format the portion before the section break different from that after. Thus, your document formatting can be described as follows:
Text with "normal" page layout ==== Section break ==== Text with special page layout
When you delete the section break, the whole document inherits the latter page layout. This is very seldom the result you wanted, since you probably wanted to get rid of the special page layout, not the normal page layout.
One way around this potential problem is to always add a pair of section breaks and then edit the page layout of the middle section:
Text with "normal" page layout ==== 1st section break ==== Text with special page layout ==== 2nd section break ==== Text with "normal" page layout
In this case, when you remove both section breaks, you'll end up with the last page layout (which is "normal").
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13309) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Avoiding a Section Break Booby Trap.
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