I find many people have trouble understanding when to use
section breaks and those documents which are converted from WordPerfect to Word
end up with a number of section breaks which are unnecessary, so I thought it
was time for another look at section breaks.
In a nutshell...
Most page breaks are soft page breaks. They occur naturally
as typing extends beyond the end of the page. In some instances they can be
inserted manually when wanting to force a heading or paragraph onto the next
A manual page break is inserted by pressing CTRL+ENTER. (WP
uses the same command for the same function)
Figure 1: Manual Page Break
Section Breaks are used for a variety of things, some of
- Changing the orientation of pages
- Changing the paper sizes
- Changing Margins
- Having different page numbering schemes. (For instance having the
Table of Contents’ page numbers which are small Roman numeral i's while the
body of the document uses Arabic page numbers.)
- Setting up columns
There are 4 types of section breaks:
- Next Page forces the text following the break to start on the
following page. This closely resembles the Manual Page Break in form, and is
often inserted unnecessarily.
Figure 2: Next Page Section Break
- Continuous stays on the same page, and forces the text following
the insertion to be in the next section. This type of section break is very
often used in Newsletter or Desktop publishing. One example of use is to insert
a continuous section break before and after a change to two or three columns of
text. (When converting documents from WP to Word, WordPerfect is notorious for
inserting continuous section breaks every time a tab set change occurs in the
Tip: If you insert
a continuous section break, change the number of columns and then insert a
second continuous section break, you will have to change the number of columns
again. However, if you type your text that you want in columns first, then
select it and change the number of columns, Word will add a continuous section
break before and after the range of selected text, and it will not be necessary
to “fix” the number of columns displayed after the final continuous section
Figure 3: Continuous Section Break
- Even Page breaks force the text following the break to an even
page. For instance if an Even Page section break is applied on page two of a
document the text following the break will appear on the 4th page.
Figure 4: Even Section Break
- Odd Page breaks are exactly opposite of even page breaks in that
they will force following text to appear on an odd page number.
Figure 5: Odd Section Break
To further complicate matters, each section can also have
layout modifications. For instance they can have a Different First Page. This
would be used if you wanted the first page of the body of you document to not
display “page 1”, however page 2 would display “page 2”. They can also have a
Different odd and even page for use when on the odd page you would like the
header information to be left aligned and on the even pages the header info
would be right aligned.
Figure 6: Page Setup Dialog
In all of Microsoft's wisdom they gave us these tools so
that we could have different numbering schemes and different layouts. However,
they set the default in Word 2003 and earlier so that they are all the same.
So, the most common frustration people have is they change the numbering format
in one section and it changes it for the whole document. This can be fixed
using the "Link to Previous" toggle.
By default in Word 2003 and earlier versions it is “ON”.
Turning it “Off” allows for different information to be in the Header and
Footer sections of a document.
Figure 7: Header Footer Toolbar
I have found when troubleshooting documents in which the
headers or footers won't cooperate; it makes more sense if I go through and
Turn OFF all the “Link to Previous” options in All the Headers and Footers.
Then I go back through the document and delete out or adjust the information.
Often at that time I discover that there are unnecessary section breaks in the
document. I remove those at that time.
One place where documents corrupt is in the section breaks,
so my belief is that the fewer section breaks the better.
Every document starts with a single section break. This is
why you should select the entire document less the final paragraph mark to
attempt to recover a corrupting document. The final paragraph mark in a
document is a hidden section break.
Hopefully this article will shed some light on Section
Breaks and how useful they can be, as well as how to use them to your best