Sections provide a means of breaking a document into manageable chunks each of which can be formatted in an individual way so that in theory each part (section) of a document has a different style. These sections do not necessarily relate to chapters and sections of the document but they may well do so.

A non-fiction book is likely to have far more sections than a fiction book. British Isles Weather and Climate has twenty-four sections spread across its 164 pages and fifteen chapters. Front and end mater in particular tend to require a number of sections with that meteorology text having five sections before the first page of the actual text. Chapters by convention start on an odd page and, especially in non-fiction, tend to have header and or footer text that is distinct from other chapters and therefore each needs to be wrapped in its own section.

Sections are separated by a section break marker, which stores and maintains the properties of the pages between that and the preceding section break. If you delete the section break, you will lose that formatting and the pages that were part of that section will become part of the preceding section and take on its formatting.

Inserting a Section Break

Inserting a section break or any other break is quite simple. Place the cursor where you require one section to end and another to begin and then:

Ribbon → Page Layout → Breaks → Section Breaks → Odd Page


Word then places a double dotted line including the text Section Break (Odd Page) where you want the section to end. The cursor then jumps to the start of the next odd page.

NB This is a non-printing symbol so you will only see it when the Show/Hide button is selected.


To check the formatting properties of that section place the cursor above the section break, ie in the section and then:

Ribbon → Page Setup → Layout

and the formatting for the section is displayed

Delete Section Break

To delete a section break place the cursor to the left-hand side of the double dotted line and click delete.

Inserting Page Break

There may be occasions when your text finishes two or three lines before the foot of the page leaving an unsightly area of white. Do not use ‘paragraph returns’ to push the cursor onto the next page because that will cause problems when publishing especially in eBook format. The ideal solution is to add some relevant text but if that is not possible you need to insert a page break.

Ribbon → Page Setup → Breaks → Page Breaks - Page

that inserts a page break in exactly the same way as a section break.