What You Don't Know About Section Properties May Surprise You
Most Word users can easily explain the properties of the characters in their
documentsfont name, font size, bold, italic, underline, etc. Most can
explain the properties of the paragraphs in their documents, tooalign
left, keep with next, etc.
However, most users can't as easily explain the properties of the sections
in their documents. Indeed, many users don't even realize that all documents
contain at least one section and that every section in a document has an extensive
collection of properties.
Fortunately, section properties are just as easy to understand as character
properties and paragraph properties.
Section Properties: They're Everywhere You Want To Be
Section properties include page borders, page line numbers, page margins, page
orientation (portrait or landscape), and number of text columns per page. Even
headers and footers are section properties...more about this later.
You might be wondering, don't these properties belong to the document as a
whole? As a matter of fact, no!
It's certainly true that, by default, all the pages in a Word document have
the same borders, line numbers, margins, orientation, and number of text columns.
But that just shows that, by default, Word documents contain a single section
and all pages belong to that section. Since they're all in the same section,
the pages all have the same borders, line numbers, margins, orientation, and
number of text columns.
If You Want To Make An Omelette, You've Got To Break Some Eggs
If you want some pages in a document to have different borders than others,
or different line numbers or margins or orientation or number of text columns,
then you need to "break" your document into multiple sections. That
way, you can adjust the properties of one section without affecting the properties
of the other sections.
If you stop and think about it, sections are no different than paragraphs in
this way. If you want some of your text to be aligned left and some to be aligned
center and some to be aligned right, then you have to break your document into
multiple paragraphs. That way, you can adjust the alignment and other properties
of one paragraph without affecting the properties of the other paragraphs.
Breaking A Document Into Multiple Sections
Breaking a document into paragraphs is easy. Simply position the cursor where
you want to start a new paragraph and hit Enter. Breaking a document
into sections is almost as easy. Simply position the cursor where you want to
start a new section and then pull down the Insert menu and choose Break
(or hit Alt/I, then B) to display the Break dialog box, then choose
the type of section break you want.
Section Break Type
Starts a new section on the same page as the current section.
Starts a new section on the next page after the current section.
Starts a new section on the next available odd-numbered page. (Don't worry;
if necessary, Word will automatically insert a blank page so that the start
of the new section will fall on an even page.)
Starts a new section on the next available even-numbered page. (Don't
worry; if necessary, Word will automatically insert a blank page so that
the start of the new section will fall on an even page.)
A Word Of Warning About Section Break Characters
To view section breaks that have been inserted into a document, on the Standard
Toolbar click the Show All button
(or hit Ctrl/Shift/8, 8 is from the alpha numeric keys). Then watch out!
If you delete a section break, the pages preceding the deleted section break
will lose their existing section properties and take on the properties of whatever
section break comes after the deleted one. If there are no section breaks after
the deleted one, the pages preceding the deleted section break will take on
the properties of the final section of the document. (The properties of the
final section are stored in the document's final paragraph mark.)
How To Set Section Properties
After a document has been broken into sections, the properties of each section
can be adjusted without affecting the properties of other sections. Here's how:
- Position the insertion point in the section whose properties you want to
set. Make sure no text is selected. (If text is selected, Word may insert
section breaks before and after the selected text in order to isolate the
selected text in its own section, so that properties of that section won't
affect other sections.)
- On the File menu, choose Page Setup and select appropriate
values for all three types of properties in the Page Setup dialog box,
which include margins, paper, and layout properties. Then choose This Section
or Whole Document and click OK to apply the page setup properties
to the current section or to all sections in the document.
- On the Format menu, choose Columns and select appropriate
values for the column properties. Then choose This Section or Whole
Document and click OK to apply the column properties to the current
section or to all sections in the document.
- On the Insert menu, choose Page Numbers. Then choose Format
and select the appropriate values for the page number properties and then
click OK and click Close. (Note! Be careful! If you click
OK and then click OK again, instead of clicking Close, you will insert
a page number, not just set the page number properties.)
How To Create A New Section And Set Its Properties At The Same Time
- Select the text for the new section or position the insertion point where
you want the new section to begin.
- On the File menu choose Page Setup and select appropriate
values for the page setup properties of the new section. Or, on the Format
menu choose Columns and select appropriate values for the column
properties of the new section. Then choose Selected Text or This
Point Forward and click OK to create the new section and set its
properties at the same time.
Headers And Footers: The Ultimate In Section Properties
The contents of Headers and Footers are section properties, too, although headers
and footers can be Linked to previous, in which case they will exhibit
the contents of the corresponding header or footer of the previous section.
To change the contents of a header or footer, position the insertion point
on the desired page, then choose View/Header and Footer.
To link a header or footer to the corresponding header or footer of the previous
section, view the header or footer and click the Link To Previous button
on the Header and Footer toolbar.
Note! More information about headers and footers will be provided in
a future article.
Go Forth and Break Your Documents! (into sections that is)
Want to know more about section breaks? Look up section breaks in the Help
system. Better yet, follow the procedures provided above and try entering a
range of different values for each section property. You'll be surprised how
easy it can be. More important, you'll discover that section properties can
often help you to create better documents in less time.
Bonus! Section Manager Macro
Microsoft provided a Section Manager macro in Office 97, which can be used
with Office 97 and above. Click the following link to download the Section Manager
code module and follow the instructions to add this useful macro to Word. Download:
Need further help getting your complex Word docs formatted? Join our free
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