Basing Headers and Footers on the Previous Section

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 1, 2014)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Susan described a problem she was having with headers and footers in her document. It seems that in a document that has multiple sections, and where each section's footer was set to "Same As Previous," her footers disappeared if she deleted the last section of the document.

The bad news is that we haven't been able to duplicate this problem. The good news is that the behavior you describe is not a "feature" of Word, and certainly not how it should behave. This is said, of course, with a caveat.

Assuming that every section in your document uses "Same As Previous" for the footers, if you actually delete the entire last section of the document, then the footers should remain intact for the remaining sections. However, if you jump to the last section, activate the footers area of a page, and then select and delete the footer, then you are also selecting and deleting the footer in all other sections of the document, as well. Why? Because with "Same As Previous" turned on, all sections share the same footer. If you make a change in one section's footer, you make the same change in them all.

The way around this behavior (changing one changes all) is to disassociate the footers in one section from those in another by turning off the "Same As Previous" setting. For instance, if you want to delete the footer in the last section of the document, then you should jump to the last section, display the footer area, click on the Same As Previous button on the Headers and Footers toolbar (so it is not selected), and then make your changes. The changes will then be limited to the final section, and won't affect any other section in the document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1575) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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?

2016-01-11 11:00:44

Tony Heng

Hi Allen,

I had the same kind of problem. The section definition seems to be stored at the end of the section.

Its is possible to find section definition with Word search Tool
- Choose Special "Section Break"

So you can :
- Look for the "section break" of a section with proper definition
- Copy this invisible section break
- Paste it at the send of a section that has lost its header/footer.

It should help. If you need more precision, feel free to contact me.

Best Regards,

Tony Heng

2014-12-17 05:56:48

Geoffrey Fox

I want to create different headings for different chapters, which used to be easy to do, but now I can't turn off the "same as previous". There is no such button in the header, and I can't find a "header toolbar". Word 2008 for Mac, version 12.3.6

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