Word 2007 Section Break Question

This one has vexed me for some time. I’ve Googled for help, and all the help sites helpfully save “press the delete key,” without going into what happens next.

When I have a bad section break selection – let’s say the last section break in a document, because that’s where I’ve been encountering it – let’s say it should be “continuous,” but someone has created it as “next page.”

I can insert a “continuous” section break before the naughty one, and delete the naughty one – but when I do, the “continuous” section break automatically converts to a “next page” section break.

I don’t want that. Why, in fact, would anyone intend for the program to change a section’s formatting automatically when an unwanted section is removed – and specifically, to inherit the unwanted section’s formatting?

Online sites seem blissfully unaware of this problem.

Can anyone shed any light on this for me?



See ‘Merging Sections’ here.

I’m still on Word 2003, but I’ve run into this problem from time to time over the years. (Have been using Word since version 1.1) Two potential solutions. One is, rather than trying to delete the errant section mark, go to Page Setup. In 2003 (and all prior Windows versions), you go to the layout tab, where you can specify the form of break. Perhaps 2007 works the same way. A second solution is to start a new document, copy in only the text and format the sections from scratch. This usually leaves behind whatever “weirdness” was making the unwanted section formatting sticky.

Nowadays a better way to resolve section glitches, or most Word glitches in fact, is to save the doc in the new docx format and then open that.

That alone will often remove the weirdness and if it doesn’t, you can edit the docx to remove the weirdness with more chance of success than in the old doc format. Save the fixed result as another docx. If you need a doc as your final result, then open the second docx & save that back as doc.

That involves a lot less rework than importing the formatless text into a fresh doc.

If you have Word 2003 you can download a free update to enable it to open & save docx.

It could be that the sections are linked, through headers and footers. Often, the headers, footers, or both will be “linked to previous” or “linked to next” - it’s meant to be helpful to enforce consistency throughout the document and make it so you only have to add things once, but it’s usually just the cause of more headaches as it causes this sort of unexpected behavior.

At a guess, I’d try checking the headers and footers in the section you want to replace and at least a couple of the previous sections too, and turn off any linking between them. (You can find the header/footer linking buttons in the header/footer toolbar on 2003, I think, and in 2007 they’re on the Header & Footer Tools Design tab on the ribbon, in the Navigation group.) After you turn of the linking, then try deleting your troublesome section and see if that works. I’m not sure it will, but it’s worth a try.

Speaking of “getting rid of the weirdness,” in Word 2003, a lot of the weirdness is stored in the last paragraph marker (for reasons known only to Bill Gates). You can get rid of a lot of this by copying everything in the document except for the last paragraph marker and pasting into a new one, then saving that new document. On the Techwr-L technical writing email list, we call this “Maggying the document” after one of the more knowledgeable posters there. So, try Maggying the document and see if that helps any. (Use the Options dialog box to turn on paragraph marks, if you don’t see them already.)

Like this:

Click “File”. Then “Page Setup”. Then the “Layout” tab. For “Section Start”, choose “New Page.” By default, your section breaks will now be “New Page” section breaks. Or do it the other way around for “Continuous” section breaks.

On the same (“Layout”) tab, you can choose to have this apply to the current section only (i.e., the section in which you’ve placed your cursor), the whole document, or this point (again, where your cursor is) forward.

This worked perfectly in Word 2007. Thanks!