Page and section breaks are useful in organizing your document. They ​help prevent and minimize the amount of time fixing formatting errors.
  • Page breaks break apart the information so that any information written after the page break will appear at the top of the next page.
  • Section breaks allow you to apply different formatting settings to each section. For example, if the document has a large table that is best presented with a horizontal orientation, section breaks can be added before and after the table. Once section breaks are added, the orientation of the page the table is on can be modified without impacting the orientation of the pages in the other sections.

Page breaks are useful for writing student papers or other simple assignments while section breaks are best utilized in large or complex documents such as those that use the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style (2020).

Check out the video tutorial “Advanced Microsoft Word: Formatting your Document" by Technology for Teachers and Students (n.d.) for a walkthrough of using section and page breaks.

Page ​Breaks

In most APA style papers, specific sections of the document should ​be presented on their own pages. For example, the abstract should begin on the second page (following the title page) and the references page should begin on the first page after the end of the paper. You can hit the enter or return key multiple times until the material moves to the next page, but if further edits are made in the document, the material may be moved around as well, causing it to no longer appear at the top of the appropriate page. Page breaks ensure that any material after them is always at the top of the next page, which allows the document to stay clean and requires no editing once put in place.

To insert page break:

  • Place your cursor on the line where you would like the page​​​ break to be.
  • Go to the Insert tab and select “Page Break" in the “Pages" section. Alternately, you may also go to the Layout tab and in the “Page Setup" section, select “Breaks," and then select “Page."

The video “Insert or remove a page break in Microsoft Word" from Microsoft 365's YouTube channel gives a quick demonstration of how to insert page breaks. The video “Advanced Microsoft Word – Formatting Your Document" from Technology for Teachers and Students' YouTube channel goes into more detail and has a longer demonstration.


Section​​ Breaks

For longer documents such as dissertations or theses using the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style (2020), section breaks may be needed. Section breaks function like page breaks, but they also allow different formatting rules to be applied to different sections of the document that are separated by section breaks. For example, section breaks can be used to apply Roman numeral pagination for front matter and Arabic numeral pagination for the body of the work.

To add a section break:

  • Place your cursor on the line where you would like the break to be.
  • Go to the Layout tab and in the “Page Setup" section, select “Breaks."
  • Under “Section Breaks" select the option most fitting for your task. In most cases “Next Page" should ​be selected, creating the same appearance a regular page break, but allowing different formatting to be applied to the new section.