If you have any problems with this web page, please first read my browser notesbrowser notes [link to ../../Miscellany/Browsers/Browsers.php] and if you still have issues, feel free to e-mail mee-mail me [link to e-mail the author at mailto:Tony@WordArticles.com]

Step by step Example


An Example

This page presents an example of the different behaviours exhibited by Word when deleting a self-contained Section Break, one not part of another paragraph. It has been separated out in order not to get in the way of the thrust of the main article.

This example is done in Word 2007, but the same effect appears in all Word versions. It is presented – in Print Layout View – in some detail in the hope that it is absolutely clear what is being done. All the screenshots presented here have “Show All” (Ctrl+* is the easiest way to toggle this setting) in effect so that Paragraph Marks and Section Breaks are always visible.

First, open a New Document; then create two New Styles, one called “Blue Style” and one called “Red Style“, and colour them appropriately; I have based mine on Body Text. The purpose of these is simply to have two visually distinct Styles, and other settings are not of great consequence.

You will need some text:

Screenshot: About to add some text
Let’s start at the very beginning

Set the Style of the first paragraph to Blue Style.

Screenshot: Colouring some text
Setting the Style

Set the Style of the second paragraph to Red Style, and then position the cursor at the end of the blue paragraph.

Screenshot: About to add a break
Ready to Rock

.. and insert a Section Break.

Screenshot: Adding a break
Breaking things up

Next, delete the paragraph mark after the Section Break.

Screenshot: About to delete a paragraph
A redundant paragraph

.. and insert one before the Section Break. The reason for doing it this way is that it is one way to make sure that the Section Break is in Blue Style, as you can see below. This example is slightly artificial, designed to highlight a particular problem. On most occasions you probably have two paragraphs of the same Style and the Section Break will naturally inherit that Style. On most occasions, too, the Style of the Section Break is of no consequence as it does not affect the display of the Section Break or any of the surrounding text.

Screenshot: Checking the Style
Paragraph added. Checking out the Style

Before going any further, a little housekeeping. This is not necessary and the effect is just cosmetic but it minimises irrelevant surprises. When you start, shortly, duplicating Section Breaks, you could find page breaks appearing because the first Section of the document is set to start on a new page; a slight change in the page setup is all that is required to prevent this. You probably have your own favourite way of launching the Page Setup dialogue but, to keep things consistent here, I shall use what I believe is called the Dialog Launcher, the miniscule arrowhead at the bottom right of the Page Setup Group on the Page Layout tab of the Ribbon. Making sure your Selection is somewhere before the Section Break...

Screenshot: Launching Page Setup
Magnifying glasses at the ready

When you have launched the dialogue, select the Layout tab and change the Section Start from “New Page” to “Continuous”.

Screenshot: Changing the Section Start
Changing the continuum

Now you are ready to begin. Firstly, to see what should, and usually does, happen, select the Section Break and press Delete.

Screenshot: Section Break deleted
No Change

You have deleted an entire paragraph. For the purposes of this demonstration, Section attributes are not relevant and the fact that the paragraph contained a Section Break is incidental. You can clearly see that no changes have hit the surrounding paragraphs.

Now that you have seen this remarkably uninteresting event, undo the deletion.

Next, Select the blue paragraph, the Section Break, and the red paragraph and Insert a Bookmark; I have called mine “Colours”.

Screenshot: Bookmarking

Bookmarking the paragraphs allows for an easy way to insert them into a Field result. To do this, you will need a Field, a Cross-reference Field being a convenient one. Go to the end of your document (press Ctrl+End) and select Cross Reference from the Insert tab on the Ribbon. If you are doing this in Word 2003 or Word 2002, select Insert > Reference > Cross-reference from the Menu, and if you are using an earlier version than that it is just Insert > Cross-reference… However, and wherever, you do it, you will get this dialogue:

Screenshot: Inserting a cross-reference

Select “Bookmark” from the dropdown at the top left, labeled “Reference type:”. Then just check that “Bookmark text” has been pre-selected in the dropdown at the top right, labeled “Insert reference to:”, and if not, select it. You should only have one bookmark in this Document, the one you created a few moments ago, so it will be pre-selected and all you have to do is click on “Insert” to insert it, and then “Cancel” to close the dialogue. Your document should then look like this:

Screenshot: Inserted

Now select the second Section Break. Assuming you have Field Shading switched on, you will see that it, and the two paragraphs bounding it, are shaded, showing that they are all part of a Field.

Screenshot: About to delete
The Break in the Field

Delete the Section Break ...

Screenshot: Section Break deleted
Another resounding lack of change

.. and you will, once again, see nothing unusual. Deleting a Section Break inside a Field result has the same (correct) effect as deleting one outside a Field. Undo the deletion.

Now Select the first Section Break and the red paragraph following it and, as earlier, Insert a Bookmark. This time, when you invoke the dialogue, the existing bookmark will already be there and all you have to do to redefine it is click on “Add”.

Screenshot: Redefining the Bookmark
Redefining the Bookmark

Having changed the bookmark, to see the impact you must update the cross-reference Field. Right-click anywhere in the Field; it will shade to let you know you’ve done so and a Field-specific context menu will pop-up.

Screenshot: About to update the Field
Refreshing the Field

Click on “Update Field”. Abracadabra! The blue paragraph, and the Section Break have vanished.

Screenshot: Redefining the Bookmark
Redefining the Bookmark

When you updated the bookmark, you did include the Section break, didn’t you? Of course, you did and, if you switch to Draft View you will see that it is still there. It is not, however, necessary to switch to another view to perform the next trick and, in some ways, it is more dramatic done from Print Layout View. Position the insertion point just before the paragraph mark at the end of the black paragraph before the (red) Field.

Screenshot: Cursor positioned

Press the right arrow once. The cursor, the insertion point, will vanish. Before you start to imagine that you have somehow relocated to the Bermuda Triangle, note the shading that indicates that you are now inside the Field. The cursor is, actually, in front of the (invisible) Section Break.

Press and hold the Shift key. Press the right arrow once. Release the Shift key. Your Selection – and it is now a Selection – is the shy Section Break:

Screenshot: Cursor vanished

Press Delete.

Screenshot: Cursor back

Your red paragraph (in Red Style) is now a blue paragraph (in Blue Style). The good news is that your insertion point has re-appeared.

When you delete a Section Break at the start of a Field result, it does not just quietly disappear as it does when deleted from almost anywhere else; I say ‘almost’ because the problem is not quite limited to the first paragraph of a Field result but it serves as a good example.

The effect is as though the implicit Paragraph Mark within the Section Break is deleted first, leaving an orphaned Section Break merged with the following paragraph, which now, having been merged with the previous paragraph, takes its Style from the previous paragraph (remember that you took care to ensure that the Section Break was in Blue Style for this demonstration). After the apparent merging of the two paragraphs the assumed following removal of the Section Break has no further effects on the Paragraphs. That is how it appears; what actually happens is, of course, top secret.

That’s it! Return whence you came.Return whence you came. [link to back to Paragraph Issues at IndexUpdate.php#ParagraphIssues].