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.

Avoiding a Section Break Booby Trap

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 1, 2020)

2

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.

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

Inserting a Non-Breaking Space

In Word a non-breaking space will help you keep two words together on the same line. Here's two different ways that you ...

Discover More

Pasting a Hyperlink

Need a quick link within a document to some external data? You can paste information so that Excel treats it just like a ...

Discover More

Formatting the Border of a Legend

When you create a chart, Excel often includes a legend with the chart. You can format several attributes of the legend's ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Updating to Smart Quotes

As you type a document, Word automatically converts your quote marks and apostrophes to "curly" versions that look more ...

Discover More

Copying Formats

Want to copy a format from one place to another without taking your hands off the keyboard? It's easy to do if you apply ...

Discover More

Intelligent Title Case

A common editorial need is to change the capitalization used on different words in a selection of text. Word provides a ...

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

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five more than 5?

2020-08-03 12:11:50

Connie Goss

Thank you for this simple work-around! This problem has tormented me for years. Érico Bennemann Carvalho is right - it should have been corrected by Microsoft years ago.


2020-08-02 00:13:53

Érico Bennemann Carvalho

"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."

Funny, I've been thinking exactly the same thing. I would imagine in most cases where people delete a section break, people want to keep the formatting from before the break, not the one after. A "booby trap" should not exist in software that has been developed for this long. How come in 20+ years of Word their developers have not deigned to fix this glaring usability issue?


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.

Newest Tips
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.