Dividing Your Document into Sections

Dividing Your Document into Sections

The longer and more complex your document is, the more likely it is to contain different sections. Word's sections don't have anything to do with how you've divided your document with headings and subheadings. They're electronic divisions you create by adding section breaks to your document. Section breaks are a close cousin to page breaks, except that a section can contain any number of pages. More important, each section in a Word document can have its own page formatting.

Many people work with Word for years without ever really understanding Word's sections. But breaking your document into different sections gives you a lot more flexibility within the same document. For example:

  • To change the page orientation. If you want to have some pages in portrait orientation and others in landscape orientation (charts or graphs, for example), you need to insert a section break where the format changes (Figure).

  • To use different sizes of paper in a single document. If you want to insert some tabloid-size pages in the middle of a document that's the standard 8.5 x 11 inches, you need to use page breaks where the format changes.

  • To change the number of columns on the page. Perhaps you want to change from a single column format to a double column format; you need to insert a section break where the format changes. You can even put the break right smack in the middle of a page.

  • To change page margins in a single document. When you want to change page margins, not just adjust a paragraph's indentation, you need to create a section break where the margins change.

    Figure. Use section breaks to make major changes to your page format. For example, after you insert a Next Page break, you can change the page orientation or the paper size.

Inserting Section Breaks

As you can see from the previous list, sections are all about page formatting, so it's not surprising that the section break commands are found under the Page Layout tab (Page Layout Page Setup Breaks or Alt+P, B). When you click the Breaks button in the Page Setup group, the menu is divided into two parts: Page Breaks and Section Breaks.

Note: When you use the Breaks menu (Figure), remember that the breaks shown at the top aren't section breaks. They're just text formatting breaks like page breaks and column breaks. The commands on the bottom are section breaks, as advertised.

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 a Next Page break when you're changing the paper size or orientation. Or you can use a Next Page break if you want each chapter to start on a new page. 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 optionsEven Page and Odd Pageare 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 that all your chapters begin on a right-hand page (like the ones in this book).

Here's how to insert a section break and change the paper orientation for the new section from Portrait to Landscape.

  1. Click within your text to place the insertion point where you want the section break.

    You're going to insert a Next Page break, so click after the end of a sentence or paragraph. Also, make sure you're in Print Layout view, so you can see the results of the break.

  2. Choose Page Layout Page Setup Breaks, and then select Next Page from the drop-down menu.

    If you're at the end of your document, Word creates a new empty page, and your insertion point is on the new page, ready to go. If you're in the middle of a document, Word creates a page break and moves your insertion point and all the remaining text to the new section.

  3. With the insertion point in the new section, click the Orientation button (Page Layout Page Setup Orientation), and then choose Landscape.

    When you make Page Setup changes in your new section, they affect only the new section. So when you change the page orientation to landscape, you see pages before the break in portrait orientation and pages after the break in landscape orientation.

In Print Layout view, you see how your document looks with section breaks inserted. In Draft view, section breaks appear in your document as dotted lines. The line doesn't print, but it's visible on your computer screen (Figure).

Figure. To delete a section break, change to Draft view. Section breaks show as dotted, double lines. Select the break by clicking the line, and then press Delete.

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