applied tips : february 2007

microsoft word : take a break

Word wrapping is a valuable feature in word processing; it lets us concentrate on the text on the page rather than the spacing between margins. However, if you want to do some advanced formatting or just want to start a new page, word wrap can be a bit can be confusing.

For example, you've written a 23-page sales report, and want to add a short index at the end of the report. If you don't know better, you'll start pressing the Enter key until you start a new page, a technique which, if you've tried it before, is inaccurate and shifty.

Fortunately, there is a much faster, easier and more reliable way to organize and manipulate how pages are arranged in Word: breaks.


The Breaks dialog box is split into two categories: non-section breaks and section breaks.

Non-section breaks don't have anything to do with formatting differences in the page, but they do give you greater control over pages and paragraphs in your document. In a sense, they are super-powered carriage returns and spacebars.

Section breaks are a little more advanced because they can do multiple things. In addition to starting a new page, like a page break, these breaks also start a new section. A section is an area in the document with formatting or properties that may be different from other sections in the document. For example, you could use portrait layout in one section of the document, and landscape layout in another section.

Another common use for section breaks is to blend columns with regular paragraphs. Inserting breaks is a sure way to make your document appear with all the contents and formatting in the right places.

How to use Breaks

Place your insertion point where you want to insert the break. Then select Insert > Break from the menu. The Break dialog box appears. Select the type of break you want to insert and click OK. 

Available Breaks

Here's a quick list of the breaks that are available and what they each do:

To delete a break

Deleting a break is just like deleting any other character or marking in Word. The trick is to find the break you're trying to delete first. Breaks are not visible when they are inserted in a document.

To view hidden characters, such as a break, click the Show/Hide All button on the Standard toolbar. All hidden characters, such as paragraph marks and breaks are shown. Find the break you want to delete and select it. Then press the Delete key and the break is gone.

You can also switch the display to "Normal Mode" as opposed to Page Layout mode.  Here you will see your breaks indicated as a horizontal line spanning the screen.

Be careful though!  Deleting a break can cause unintended results with your formatting. The formatting of the first section may be lost when the sections collide. For example, in a section break between two pages, if the first one has columns and the second one doesn't, the first page's columns will no longer be in column format.

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