How to Format Word Documents with Section Breaks

Section breaks are great helpers when you’re formatting a Word document. They make everything easier, whether you’re using page borders on specific pages or changing margins on a single page. You should use section breaks whenever you want to use a different format in other parts of your document.

You’ll be surprised how quickly the report gets finished. If you haven’t used section breaks before, no worries. They are easy to implement and you can remove them at any time.

Microsoft Word includes a number of section breaks:

– Next Page which adds a section break and inserts a new page
– Continuous which adds a section break on the existing page
– Column which inserts a newsletter column break and forces content to the next column
– Text Wrapping which separates text around objects on a Web page
– Even Page which inserts a section break at the beginning of the next even-numbered page
– Odd Page which inserts a section break at the beginning of the next odd-numbered page

In this tutorial, I’ll focus on the Next Page, Continuous and Column section breaks.

Format Document with Next Page Section Break

Use section breaks to format a new page.

Step 1: Open the document you want to format.

Step 2: Place your cursor exactly where you want the Next Page section break to go. For example, if your third page requires a page border, but your other pages do not, place your cursor right before the content that will be formatted differently.

Step 3: Select the “Page Layout” tab and go to the “Page Setup” group. Click “Breaks” and “Next Page.”

Step 4: To retain the formatting on subsequent pages, place your cursor right after the page you’ll format differently. Insert another Next Page Break there.Add border around one page only with section breaks.

Step 5: To change the formatting on the page with a different format, place your cursor somewhere on the page.

Step 6: To add a page border around that page, for example, select the “Page Layout” tab. Click “Page Borders” in the “Page Background” group. The Borders and Shading dialog box opens to the “Page Border” tab. Select the page border you want to use and set “Apply to” to “This section.” Click “OK.”

Step 7: To use different margins on that page, select the “Page Layout” tab and go to the “Page Setup” group. Click “Margins” and select the settings you wish to use.

Format Document with Continuous Section Break

Step 1: Place the insertion point where you want the Continuous section break to go. This is a great option if, for example, the bottom half of your page requires wider margins than the top. To apply different formatting to your text and leave subsequent text unchanged, highlight the text you want to format.

Step 2: Select the “Page Layout” tab and go to the “Page Setup” group.

Step 3: Click “Breaks” and “Continuous.”

Use section breaks to format a continuous page with different formatting.

Format Newspaper Columns with Column Section Break

(Note: Check out the How to Create Newspaper Columns in a Word Document tutorial if you need help creating columns).

Step 1: Go to the column you want to format on your page.

Step 2: To move text to the next column, place your cursor right before the text you want to move.

Step 3: Select the “Page Layout” tab and go to the “Page Setup” group.

Step 4: Click “Breaks” and “Column.”

Use section breaks to format a columns in a document.

Remove Section Breaks to Format Documents

When you remove section breaks from a document, Word applies the formatting from the previous section to your subsequent pages. It helps to switch your page view when removing section breaks. Change views to make Word documents easier to format.

Step 1: Select the “View” tab and click “Draft” from the “Document Views” group. Alternatively, you can click the “Draft” button at the bottom of your Word window to switch to it.

Step 2: To remove a section break, place your cursor just below the break and press the “Backspace” key.

Problems Removing Section Breaks?

Sometimes, section breaks have a mind of their own. This is especially true if one part of your document uses a Continuous section break while another uses a Next Page section break.

Let’s say there’s a Continuous section break above with formatting for a different right and left margin. Then there’s a Next Page section break below with its own content and formatting, as shown below:

Section breaks before changes are applied.

Deleting the Next Page section break (on the following page) changes the Continuous break (on the previous page) into a Next Page section break, as shown below:

The deleted section break is applied to previous section break incorrectly.

You want the previous page to retain its settings, not inherit the settings on the following page. Here’s a trick I use to make the section breaks behave:

Step 1: Don’t delete the section break quite yet. Instead, place your cursor directly below the section break you want to remove and insert the correct type of section break you want to retain. Here’s an example:

Insert correct type of section break after section break you want to delete.

Step 3: Now, delete the section break (on the following page) you wanted to remove initially. The previous section break inherits its settings.

New section break deleted to inherit its formatting.

Step 4: Delete the new section break you just created on the second page. The previous section now inherits the correct section break and retains its format.

Last deletion applies the correct formatting.

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