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Using Section Breaks

Section breaks can be used to split your documents into different parts that can then be formatted in different ways - you can even turn one page of a document landscape and leave the rest portrait using section breaks.  They can also be used to control page numbering and are especially useful for making separate sections at the start and end of a large document for the Table of Contents and Index.  You can format part of a page into columns by creating a section within the page and formatting just that section.

To create a section you insert section breaks into your document, you can choose whether these section breaks start from the current point in the document (continuous) or on a new page (next page/odd page/even page).  If you want to use a section break to turn part of your document landscape instead of portrait then you should use a Next Page section break.

To add a section break, place your cursor at the point in the document where you want the new section to start and click on Insert -> Break.  A window appears where you can select the type of break to insert.

We have selected a Next page section break as we are going to change the orientation of the following page.  Click OK to insert the section break.

When you have created your section break your cursor will be in the next section of the document (and on the next page in this case), if you look at Word's status bar in the bottom left-hand corner you will see details of the page number and section number where your cursor is positioned.

To see the breaks in your document as dotted lines, click on View -> Normal, this can be helpful when you want to remove a break.

To remove a break just click on the dotted line representing it and press the Delete key on your keyboard.

To return to viewing your document as you would normally, click on View -> Print Layout.

When you have created a next page section break you can use it to change part of your document to a different orientation or to have different margins to the rest.  To change page orientation, click in the section you want to change and click on File -> Page Setup.  Use the Paper Size section of the window to select the orientation and check that the Apply to box is set to This section.  When you click OK the current section will have its page orientation changed but the other sections will stay as they were previously.  Here is a document where the orientation has been changed to landscape after the section break.

If you use section breaks you can set Word's page number formatting options to start from a certain page number in a section, this can be useful when you want to start the page numbering in the second section of your document so that the first section can be used for the table of contents, etc.  If you use continuous section breaks you can turn part of a page into a different format, e.g. create columns.  Take care when highlighting text before applying formatting such as columns, if you don't notice the Apply to box and it is set to Selected text, Word will create a section break and will not apply the formatting to the whole document.

Section breaks are also created when you mail merge form letters to a new document, each letter is placed in a separate section.  If you only want to print certain sections of your document you can use special commands in the Pages box in the Print window.  See the printing page for more information on these special settings.

s2 prints section 2

s2-s5 prints section 2 through to section 5