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Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 10 Issue 2
February 2016
Microsoft Word: What's the Best Way to "Push" Text to the Next Page?

The problem, and a common "solution"
You're working on a document in Microsoft Word, and you notice that it started a new page in an inconvenient place, perhaps in the middle of a paragraph that you would rather be all together on one page. To fix this, you do the obvious thing: You click above that special text, and then tap the Enter or Return key on your keyboard a number of times to insert blank lines that "push" that text down until it has moved to the top of the next page. Now that it's no longer split across two pages, the problem is solved, right?

Read on for the potential consequences of using this technique, and my advice on better ways to handle this situation. While some of the details are specific to Microsoft Word, the general approach I suggest should work in any word processor, including Microsoft Works, WordPerfect, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, AppleWorks, Apple Pages, etc.

Expedient but fragile
Inserting blank lines (technically they're empty paragraphs) is certainly a quick way to push your text lower down in your document, but it's a "fragile" solution at best. Consider this:
  • If you later shorten any of the text in your document above those blank lines, then all the text below will move up, and then your collection of blank lines won't be enough to "push" all of your special text onto the next page, so you'll have to add more.
  • Conversely, if you add to your earlier text making it longer, then you'll have too many blank lines in that "fixed" spot, which will move your special text down from the top of the next page, so you'll have to remove some.
  • If you use this technique in more than one place in your document, then any later changes will require you to review and possibly "fix" all of those places by adding or removing blank lines again.
  • Even without editing the text in your document, other changes to your document could also move your special text up or down, including modifying the margins, fonts, sizes, line spacing, indents, etc.
Rather than going to all this effort, there are easier ways to deal with this problem.

A better solution
Instead of inserting blank lines, manually insert a Page Break right before your special text. That will move it to the top of the next page in one simple and reliable step. Then, no matter how you edit the text before it, or even if you do change the margins, font, line spacing or anything else, your special text will always start on a new page.

How to insert a manual page break varies, depending your version of Microsoft Word. Here are the most common ways to find this function:
  • Insert->Break->Page Break
  • Insert->Pages->Page Break
  • Page Layout->Page Breaks->Page
More sophisticated solutions
However, inserting manual page breaks may not turn out to be a good long-term solution either, especially if you find yourself inserting them and then later removing them as your document evolves. To help with some of these situations, Microsoft Word has some clever ways you can have it insert page breaks only under certain conditions.

Every paragraph has Formatting options, and under "Line and Page Breaks" you'll find "Pagination" options that will cause page breaks to occur as needed, without your having to insert them manually:
  • Widow/Orphan control (on by default): The last line of a paragraph by itself at the top of a page is known as a widow, and the first line of a paragraph by itself at the bottom of a page is known as an orphan. When this option is on, Word will shift its automatic page breaks by one line more or fewer to prevent widows and orphans from occurring, i.e., to ensure that at least two lines of a paragraph appear on a page.
  • Keep lines together: If you turn this option on, Word will move the entire paragraph to the next page if a page break would normally have occurred between any of its lines.
  • Keep with next: This option moves the paragraph to the next page if a page break would normally have put the next paragraph on the next page. You might use this to keep a title or heading on the same page as the first paragraph it introduces.
  • Page break before: This option will make the given paragraph always start at the top of a new page. You might use this to make a chapter title always start on a new page.
If you use Tables, every row has this option:
  • Allow row to break across pages (on by default): If a row of your table has multiple lines of text, this option controls whether Word permits page breaks to occur between any of those lines, or whether Word will prevent them by moving the row to the next page.
Good reasons to "push" text to the next page
Why would you want to start a new page instead of leaving your text where it is?
  • You might be starting the next major chunk of your document, like a new chapter, or you're writing a series of handouts or signs or slides that must print on separate pieces of paper, or you're designing a flyer or a greeting card that has a front page, middle pages, and a back page.
  • You may have two (or more) elements in your document that you want to stay together, but the second one ended up on the next page, such as a picture and its caption, a heading and its introductory paragraph, the title of a list and the first few items in that list, etc.
  • You may have a single paragraph all of whose lines need to appear together on the same page, like an important warning, or a poem, or a product label, or a short literary quote.
Related technique: Revealing nonprinting (invisible) characters
Whenever I'm trying to understand a Word document, I've found it very helpful to reveal the "invisible" or "nonprinting" characters (spaces, tabs, paragraph breaks, page breaks, etc.) so I can see what's going on. The name of this function will depend on your version of Microsoft Word:
  • Show/Hide Paragraph Marks
  • Show/Hide ¶
  • View Nonprinting Characters
  • If you use the "Standard Toolbar," click its "¶" icon once to invoke this function.
No matter where you find it, this function is a "toggle," so once invisible characters are shown, clicking it again will hide them.

When you reveal invisible characters, the paragraph break at the end of each paragraph will be represented by a paragraph mark (¶), and manual page breaks will display as "......Page Break......"

Showing or hiding invisible characters will only change how your document appears on the screen. It has no effect on how your document will print.

Where to go from here
  • If you find yourself inserting blank lines to push your text down, stop and ask yourself whether you're doing this to solve a problem quickly, or whether using page breaks (either manual or conditional) might be a better long-term solution.
  • If you can't understand why one page seems to "end early" and the text after it is at the top of the next page, have Word show the invisible characters. You will then be able to see any extra blank lines, manual page breaks, or even section breaks. If you don't see elements like those, then check the formatting (page break) options on the paragraph at the start of that next page.
  • google: common microsoft word mistakes
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilcrow: The history of the paragraph mark (¶), which dates back over 500 years
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

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I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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