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December 8, 2016

Section Break Mass Slaughter

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

In my Word For Dummies books, I describe how to remove a hard page break and a section break, but I don’t describe the process to eliminate all breaks from a document at once. It’s not a secret, but the process might wreck the document’s formatting.

A reader sent me an email, asking how to quickly remove multiple section breaks from a document. He said the document had 15 of them. It was a pain to find and remove each one.

I’m curious as to why 15 section breaks were needed. Section breaks allow you to change page formatting in a document, resetting orientation, paper size, margins, headers/footers, and other items. If you have a document with 15 section breaks, then it probably uses a lot of complex formatting. Then again, it could be a merged document, where Word automatically inserts section breaks. So who knows?

The short answer is that you use search-and-replace to banish the section breaks. You search for a section break then replace it with nothing. Here are the specific steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button to show the full dialog box.
  3. Click the Special button and choose Section Break to stick the ^p characters into the Find What text box.
  4. Ensure that the Replace With text box is empty.
  5. Click the Replace All button.

And — poof! — the document is purged of section breaks.

My solution answered the reader’s question, and he was grateful. As a better solution, I suggested replacing the section breaks with hard page breaks. That’s because, page-level formatting aside, the section break works like a hard page break. For the document’s layout, replacing section breaks with hard page breaks might be a better interim step.

To replace section breaks with hard page breaks, in Step 4 (above), click the Special button and choose Manual Page Break from the menu. You see the ^m characters appear in the Replace With text box. The search-and-replace process finds section breaks (^p) and replaced them with hard page breaks (^m).

After replacing section breaks with hard page breaks, you can review the document for layout purposes. If the hard page breaks aren’t needed at that point, remove them. And be prepared for anything!

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