My short cuts – proper page breaks

23 Nov

As promised in my original post, I’m going to write some quick guides to things you do when you’re writing documents which you think are a short cut but actually cause more trouble than they’re worth.

The idea of this series isn’t to criticise people, just to show you how to do things in a more formal way which will actually make things easier for you in the long run, especially if you’re dealing with a larger document like a dissertation, a thesis, a funding proposal, a workbook, a technical guide …

Please note: these examples can look rather wide. I want them to be as near full-size as possible, so you can see exactly what I’m doing. If you’re looking at this post on a monitor, you should be able to scroll across to see the full image. If you’re viewing on a tablet, some of the screenshot may be cut off: hopefully you can see enough to get an idea of it, or you should be able to select the image to view it separately.

Today we’re going to talk about page breaks. If you’re writing a document that has sections, chapters, etc., you might well want to start a new chapter on a new page, and have it look something like this:

So far, so good – you’ve got your new chapter starting on a new page. But I bet you finished one section and hit the “Enter” key until you got to a new page, didn’t you? The way to tell is to hit a rather magical little button that shows all the formatting you’ve done.  In Word, you’ll find it in the Home menu; if it’s not there, play around with the display until you’ve found it and add it to the menu bar. Here it is:

That’s actually the “paragraph” symbol or pilcrow used for centuries in manuscripts and printed books. Anyway, it’s ever so useful if you want to show what you’ve done to a document. Press it a second time if you want all the formatting marks to disappear again. So, pressing this with our document open shows the horrible truth – enter, enter, enter you’ve gone, six times, down the page …

And that’s all well and good – until you change the text above the page break. You’ve done this and it all looks nice, then you notice that repeated line on page 1. Oh, well, you can just delete that. So you delete the repeated line, and the text on page 1 is now one line shorter – one line further up the page. Below the text, you hit Enter 6 times to make Chapter 2 start on the next page. Those six lines are below your chunk of text still, but your text is one line shorter than it used to be. So what happens … ?

Disaster! Chapter 2 doesn’t begin on the next page any more! It’s crept up a line! And, similarly, if you’d added some lines of text to Chapter 1, this chapter heading would start part way down this page. Messy! And when you’ve submitted your work to an editor like me, you can bet we’ll be suggesting adding lines in or taking them away; when you get the document back the spacing will be all over the place (or I’ll have done it my way and made it tidy already … )

So how do you do it properly so this messiness doesn’t happen? Simple – you “force a page break”. Again, in all versions of Word, when you get to the place where you want to force a new section to start on a new page, press Control-Enter (or choose Insert – Page Break). Turning on your formatting display, and using our original text again, you’ll see this:

And because it’s a forced page break, it doesn’t matter what you do to the text above the break, the new text will always appear on the next page. Make the Chapter 1 text shorter again by deleting that extra line and you get this:

No hopping around – and even if you add so much to Chapter 1 that it goes onto the next page, Chapter 2 will just hop on down to the page after, automatically.

Of course, your document still looks like this:

But you’ve done it all correctly, in fewer keystrokes, and you know that whatever you do with Chapter 1, Chapter 2 will always start at the top of its new page, nice and tidy, going where you need it to go.

I hope that’s helped – it’s a very common issue, which is why I’ve tackled it first. There will be more of these posts coming over the next few months – do pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you, and let me know if there are any other issues you’d like me to look at.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Copyediting, Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

10 responses to “My short cuts – proper page breaks

  1. Alice Field (@AllesKlar71)

    November 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Don’t forget the option of making all the “Chapter 2” type headings of a style which incorporates a page break before it automatically…

    A x


  2. Liz at Libro

    November 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    This is a simple post for people who enter down to start a new page – I’m treating a) headings and styles and b) more expert stuff like widow and orphan control and advanced settings for headings in a) another post and b) another series. Little by little!

    It’s tabs next. So many screenprints!


  3. Salman Alhajri

    January 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you Liz, I find this interesting post and very helpful


    • Liz at Libro

      January 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

      Thanks, Salman – I’m glad you’ve found it useful!



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