Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting.

Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 26, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word allows you to format your documents on three general levels: sections, paragraphs, and characters. Of the three, section formatting is often the most confusing formatting for people to understand. Other issues of WordTips detail how you can insert section breaks and apply section formatting.

If you have worked with sections before, you already know that if you delete a section break, the text before the break then adopts the section formatting characteristics of the section after the break. This may be what you want, but it can also be a pain if you want to delete the final section break in a document and you don't want the previous text to lose its section formatting.

Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic way to delete section breaks and maintain the formatting represented by that break. There is a workaround you can use, however:

  1. Place the insertion point at the end of the document, just after the final section break.
  2. If the section break just before the insertion point is a Continuous section break, press Ctrl+Enter to insert a page break.
  3. Choose Header and Footer from the View menu. Word displays the Header and Footer dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Same As Previous control is selected for both the header and footer. This ensures that the final section in the document has the same header and footer as the section just before it.
  5. Close the Header and Footer dialog box.
  6. Place the insertion point just before the final section break.
  7. Choose Page Setup from the File menu. Word displays the Page Setup dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  8. Figure 1. The Page Setup dialog box.

  9. Immediately press Enter or click on OK.
  10. Place the insertion point just after the final section break.
  11. Press F4. Word applies to the last section the Page Setup formatting that you accepted in step 8 for the next-to-last last section.
  12. If there are no differences in column formatting between the two final sections, you can skip to step 17.
  13. Place the insertion point just before the final section break.
  14. Choose Columns from the Format menu. Word displays the Columns dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  15. Figure 2. The Columns dialog box.

  16. Immediately press Enter or click on OK.
  17. Place the insertion point just after the final section break.
  18. Press F4. Word applies to the last section the column formatting that you accepted in step 14 for the next-to-las last section.
  19. Select and delete the final section break.
  20. Select and delete the page break you inserted in step 2.

For more information on this and other issues relating to section breaks, visit this page at the Word MVP site:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1477) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Getting Rid of Section Breaks, but Not Section Formatting.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is one less than 7?

2022-10-26 22:53:19

Gavin Klose

Thanks. I eventually got this to work after re-activating the F4 key and then using fn+F4.
If others have the same issue see

Is there a hack when creating sections so that others in my organisation will not have to go this process using my templates?
Mine have optional Landscape sections within Portrait templates that users may or may not wish to use? Eg maybe setting up the template and (fake/buffer?) sections so you can delete a section without having to train the organisation to do this complicated procedure?

Interestingly, I am creating Procedure docs templates.

2021-09-20 11:10:18


If you can't find File - Page Setup, then use Layout - Margins - Custom Margins.
The dialog that pops up is indeed called "Page Setup".
Just like MS to retain functionality, but rename it just to make it a little more obscure :) :D

2020-09-29 17:33:04

Gary R Johnson

thanks Alan fix my problem. I'm so sick of this program.

2020-09-09 09:56:26


Thanks for your help!

2020-04-21 10:08:09

Torsten B. Hagemann

That was simply genius - thank you for sharing!

2020-03-24 10:26:54


I'm so grateful for this tip! Thank you for sharing! I feel lucky that I did the search quick after 10 minutes of trying...

2020-03-23 03:49:30


Thanks so much for that.

2020-02-27 04:00:01

Paul Hemsley


2020-02-25 21:24:34

Jennifer Wells

SO GRATEFUL--thank you!!! I've spent HOURS trying to figure this out and am so thankful now.

2019-06-03 10:48:36


Appreciate your advice, but still struggling with removing a single page number (6! ) from the front section. Is there a service I can pay to do this?

2017-11-07 11:03:10


Thank you Allen. This actually worked AND the instructions made sense! I've been trying to sort this out for a couple of days. I pressed the final delete button with trepidation but, hey presto, there it was gone!

2017-05-24 00:50:51


Thank you SO much! I usually wouldn't ever comment on a blog like this but this just solved a problem I've been struggling with for weeks, and I'm so relieved and thankful right now. The problem was that it was somehow split into two columns instead of one, so as soon as I changed it, it worked and I was able to delete the blank page at the end! Thank you thank you!

2017-05-08 15:59:11


Thanks!! This trick really helped out!

2017-01-27 09:35:05


Thank you so much!!!

2016-10-18 03:29:42


Thankyou! I had no clue about any of this. I could implement your tip for MS 2010.

2016-10-11 17:44:41


Great tip! Thank you. Losing the previous page's formatting after deleting my section break was driving me bonkers and I couldn't remember how to stop it until I read your tip.

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