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How To Insert, View, or Delete Section (& Page) Breaks in Microsoft Word

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This post is part of a series called Learn How to Use Microsoft Word (Beginner Tutorial Guide).
Microsoft Word vs Google Docs Compared (Which Is Better to Use in 2020?)
How to Quickly Find, Edit, & Use Microsoft Word Templates (MS Theme Files)

When you’re working on a long document, separating it into different parts makes it much easier to navigate. Microsoft Word eases your workflow by letting you define document breaks, namely section and page breaks.

Microsoft Word section Break
Understanding page breaks and sections breaks is an important part of learning MS Word (Image source: Envato Elements)

As you’ll see in this article by defining section and page breaks you can apply specific formatting elements in different parts of your document. You’ll also have better control over pagination. 

Read on to learn how to use section and page breaks in Word to make your document more visually appealing and easier for readers to make their way around. Finally, we'll show you some great sources for professionally designed Word templates.

Understanding Section and Page Breaks

Section and page breaks are types of breaks or partitions in a Word document. In this section, you'll learn some basics:

1. Microsoft Word Section Break vs Page Break

A page break is a partition in the text of the document. At a page break, the succeeding text is automatically placed on top of a new page.

Microsoft Word Page Break
The text after a Microsoft Word page break is automatically placed at the top of the next page.

But, with a section break for Word the text is partitioned — along with the formatting associated with it: 

  • page numbers
  • margins
  • headers and footers
  • paper size and/or orientation

Also, a Microsoft Word section break may or may not begin on a new page (more on that below).

2. Why Use Microsoft Section and Page Breaks?

Section and page breaks are useful for partitioning different parts of a document, especially a long one. 

In a book, you'd use section breaks to divide it into chapters as well as delineate the front matter from the back matter. The title page, copyright page, table of contents, individual chapters, index, etc., would be separate sections.

For example, you usually want a new chapter of a book (or similar) document to begin on a new page. This is when a page break is most useful.

A section break for MS Word is useful for visually distinguishing parts of a document. An example of where you might use a section break is in a proposal where you want the summary to have a different layout. In this case, the summary section could have its own header, footer, and margins that are different from the rest of the document. 

By using section breaks, each chapter can have a different running header, including the chapter title.

Section break Word
Create different running headers for each chapter by using section breaks.

Microsoft Word Section breaks also let you use lower case numbers for page numbers on the introduction of the book and Arabic numerals on the rest of the pages. 

Similarly, a section break in Microsoft Word lets you use a two-column format in the index section and a single column everywhere else.

You’ll also want to use section and page breaks when you want to control the pagination of your document. For example, the first page of your document may be a cover page. But you don’t want the cover page to be page 1 of your document. By inserting a section break after the cover page, you can make the next page be page 1.

You accomplish these results by inserting different types of section and page breaks in Word.

3. Types of Microsoft Word Section Breaks

There are four types of section breaks in MS Word:

  1. Next Page. This type of section break forces the text to the right of the cursor to a new section on the following page. All the formatting associated with the text is carried through to the new section as well.
  2. Continuous. A continuous section break creates a new section but keeps the text on the same page. This means two different sections can have their own formatting yet remain on the same page.
  3. Odd Page. This kind of section break moves the text to the right of the cursor to the top of the next odd-numbered page. If you’re on page 3, for example, and you insert an Odd Page Section Break, the next section will start on top of page 5 (page 4 will be blank). Book chapters usually begin on the next odd page of the book.
  4. Even Page. An Even Page section break moves the text to the right of the cursor to the top of the next even-numbered page. So, if you’re on page 6 and you insert an Even Page Section Break, the new section will begin on page 8 (leaving page 7 blank).

4. Types of Page Breaks

As for Microsoft Word page breaks, there are two kinds:

Microsoft Word page break
How to insert a page break in MS Word.
  1. Simple Page Breaks. A simple page break moves text to the right of the cursor to the top of the next page.
  2. Column Breaks. If your document is broken up into columns, a column break moves text to the right of the cursor to the top of the next column.

How to View Existing Breaks in an MS Word Doc 

By default, section and page breaks are invisible in Word. You can only see their effects. You’ll see changes in formatting and pagination for each section. That’s because these breaks don’t appear when the document is printed.

As you’re editing and formatting your document, you may need to see page and section breaks. To view existing page and section breaks in Word, on the Home tab, then click on the Paragraph button.

Display section break Word
The Paragraph button allows you to see formatting.

How to Insert Section Breaks in Your Word Docs

To insert a page or section break, place the cursor where you want one section/page to end and the next section/page to begin.

Go to Insert > Break, then choose the specific type of page break or section break you want to insert.

Insert section break - Word
The image above shows how to insert section break in Word.

Or, click on the Layout tab. Then click on the Breaks button on the ribbon and select the type of page or section break you wish to insert.

Insert section break - Word
You can also insert section breaks in Word through the Layout tab.

How to Remove/Delete Section and Page Breaks in Word

To remove a section or page break in Word, first display all the breaks.

Select the section or page break you want to remove by highlighting it. Click on either the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard.

How to delete section break in word
How to delete section break in Word

When you delete a section break, the text in the section adopts the formatting of the next section.

Tips for Using Section and Page Breaks in MS Word

Are you just getting comfortable with using Microsoft Word section and page breaks? Here are some extra tips to help you use them effectively:

1. Keep Your Section Breaks to a Minimum

Insert a section break in Word only when you have to (see above for when it’s a good idea to do so). Having more sections than necessary makes it more difficult to make global changes to your document, because you’d have to manually make those changes in each section. 

2. Pay Attention to Which Section You’re In

If you've divided your document into sections, always be aware of what section you’re in when you make formatting changes. That’s because these changes will apply only to the section you’re currently in — that’s the section where your cursor is. If you want to make a formatting change to apply to the whole document, select the entire document first before making your changes.

3. Microsoft Word May Change a Continuous Section Break to the Other Section Break Types

You may be surprised that your continuous section break has been converted into a different type of section break. This happens when you've got a continuous section break. Then, in the next section, you try to apply a different header/footer, pagination, margins, or page size and orientation. Those formatting changes require a page break. And so, Word will automatically change the section break type to one that results in a page break.

Streamline Your Microsoft Word Workflow With Templates

Word template for proposal
Word templates like this proposal template help you create impressive-looking documents.

There are other ways to streamline your MS Word workflow. One of them is using premium Word templates, like the ones you’ll find at Envato. Premium templates for Microsoft Word are created by professional designers to provide impressive layouts. These templates are customizable with your content, images, and branding. You can also adjust the design and layout as you please.

Envato Elements gives you unlimited downloads of Word templates as well as other inputs you need to complete your projects — fonts, graphics, stock photos, and more — all for one flat monthly subscription fee.

Word Templates - Envato Elements
Starting with a Microsoft Word template is another great way to streamline your workflow in Word.

Or, go to GraphicRiver for Microsoft Word templates and other creative elements on a pay-per-use basis. It’s a terrific source for one-off projects.

Make Your Document Easier to Read and Navigate

Now you know how to use section and page breaks in Microsoft Word to better organize your document. Section breaks also let you have more granular control over the formatting of specific parts of your document. These make your document look better as well as easier to read and navigate through.

Use the steps you learned in this article to properly use section and page breaks. Also, use Word templates to make it much easier and faster to create impressive documents. Envato Elements provides unlimited downloads of templates for Word for one monthly subscription. For occasional projects, GraphicRiver is an excellent source of Word templates where you pay for each use.

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