Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
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Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
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The longer and more complex your Word document is, the more likely
it is to need different sections. Word's sections aren’t chapters, that
is, they don't have anything to do with how you've divided your document
with headings and subheadings. Sections are electronic divisions you
create by adding section breaks to your document. Section breaks are a
close cousin to page breaks, except a section can contain any number of
pages. More important, each section in a Word document can have its own
distinctive page formatting.
Many people work with Word for years without ever really understanding
Word's sections. After all, the majority of Word documents are only a
single section. In fact, a multiple page document can be just one
Documents Start with One Section
of your document as a large piece of undeveloped, flat land. Initially, it has
one set of boundaries with the same look throughout. Now, you want to divide the
land into plots for individual property owners who can develop their areas in
any way they want. Each lot is divided with fences and property lines...in Word,
these boundaries are called section breaks. The section breaks allow you to
change the page formatting for one section without modifying the rest of the
When You Need Section Breaks
A section break separates the document into multiple sections for
individualized formatting. With section formatting, a document can easily be
divided into separate pieces such as a title page, report detail, appendixes,
portrait vs. landscape layout, and other changes to the document structure.
Section breaks also make it easy to switch between one column to multiple
columns and then back to a single column of text.
Section breaks are needed in a document when page formatting changes within
the same document, or your document includes more than one type of column
Specifically, section breaks are needed in the following circumstances:
- Different margins: For documents such as a letter, where the
first page might
require a two-inch top margin to make room for the letterhead, with the
following pages requiring a standard one-inch top margin plus a header that
should not start until the second page.
- Different headers and footers: For documents that require
different formatting for various headers and footers.
- Different paper sizes: Multiple sections are required with
documents with both portrait and landscape page orientation.
- Different numbering schemes: Large documents often require
different page numbering formats from one area to another. For example, the
Table of Contents may be numbered with lower case Roman numerals (i, ii,
iii) while the main body uses Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) and the document
concludes with Appendices using alphabetic numerals (A, B, C).
- To restart automatic numbering for separate chapter: Word uses
automatic numbering for figures and other items. If you have a multi-chapter
document, you may want the numbers to restart with each chapter.
- Columns: Multiple sections are used in documents with newspaper
style columns combined with standard one column formatting. You can even
change the number of columns on a single page.
Inserting Section Breaks
To insert a section break in Word 2010 and Word 2007:
- Choose the Page Layout tab > Page Setup > Breaks.
- When you click the Breaks button in the Page Setup group, the
menu is divided into two parts: Page Breaks and Section Breaks.
- Choose the type of section break that you need for your document.
To insert a section break in Word 2003:
- Insert > Break.
- From the list of section break types, choose the type of section break
that you need for your document.
Types of Section Breaks
There are four different types of section breaks in Word. For most complex
documents, the Next Page section break is used most frequently.
Section breaks have two major distinctions. There are Next Page
breaks, which create a new page for the new section, and there are Continuous
breaks, which place a divider mark in the text with no visible interruption.
Everything below that mark is in a new section. You use the Continuous
break to change the number of columns or the margins in your document in the
middle of a page.
The other two options—Even Page and Odd Page—are just
variations on Next Page. They create section breaks and start the new
section on the next even or odd page. For example, you use this option to make
sure all your chapters begin on a right-hand page.
Section breaks are also automatically created any time you select a portion of
text and then change page formatting; your choices will be applied just to the
selected part of text. As needed, section breaks may be added at the start and
end of the selected text.
How Section Formatting is Stored
It’s important to note, in a single section document, section formatting is
stored in the last paragraph mark. With multiple section documents, a section
break stores the formatting for the section that precedes it. So, if a section
break is deleted, section formatting applied to the section that preceded the
break will change to match whatever section formatting is stored in the next
Before deleting any section break, take note of all differences in section
formatting between the sections before and after the break. Remember, after you
delete a break, all section formatting in the section that preceded the break
will revert to the formatting saved in the section following the break.
Understanding how Word formatting and section breaks work will simplify how
you create and edit your Word documents.
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
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To go to a specific section, press
[Ctrl]+G (Go To), choose Section from the drop-down list
and then enter a section number.
|Every Microsoft Word
document has at least one section.