23 Jan On the correct use of, part 04 — Page and section breaks

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Most of us have to write something from time to time. An essay. A paper. A blog post. A report. An article. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that it has to get done. And too often, your writing app gets in your way, without ever letting you know why. For some reason, there’s suddenly too much space below one of your sentences. Your paragraphs align at three different places. Creating columns breaks your whole document.

This series aims to make the process simpler by outlining steps to understand and solve the problems in your documents.

Part 01. White-space characters

Part 02. Word spaces, tabs and first-line indents

Part 03. Line and paragraph breaks

Part 04. Page and section breaks

Part 05. Hyphens and dashes

Part 06. Parentheses

Part 07. Spaces before and after punctuation

Part 08. Quotation marks

Part 09. Paragraph styles

Page break

Some types of documents require that not all pages be filled with text.

When you’ve finished writing all there is to write on a select page, don’t press Return/Enter multiple times to insert paragraph breaks until a new page is created. Instead, insert a Page Break.

Not only will it be quicker, but it will allow you to modify your document in the future without the fear or off-setting all your pages when you write additional things on an already-filled page.

Section break

Section breaks are useful document elements in word processors such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages. They allow you to modify the layout or format of a section of your document for it to have its own margins, columns, headers, footers, page numbers, and such.

The behave a bit differently in various word processors. In Word, section breaks can essentially be Continuous or can create a break to a Next Page.


Section breaks are especially useful when dealing with page numbers. While your title page doesn’t have a page number, your main section can have ordinal page numbers (1, 2, 3, …), while your appendix section can have numeral page numbers (I, II, III, …).


Some of our documents contain some pages in portrait while others are in landscape. Next Page section breaks in Microsoft Word allow you to modify the orientation of a page without affecting the others’. Pages sadly can’t do this yet. I’m sure it’ll be included in a future release. In the meantime, there are workarounds. Exporting to PDF and then rotating select pages in Preview is a sound one. Creating and printing two documents and manually collating pages is another.


Pages handles columns pretty intuitively, automatically creating different layouts than the rest of your section or page.

Word isn’t as straightforward with the process, but you can use a continuous section break above and below the content you want placed in columns as to not affect the rest of the text on your page.

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