How to Remove Section Breaks in a Word Document

Section breaks provide a method for separating styles in a Word 2010 or 2013 document. When a document containing section breaks is viewed or edited by several users, however, it may pick up erroneous formatting, such as repeated page numbers. If you don't need the breaks, fix the problems by deleting specific section breaks by hand, or by using Find and Replace to eliminate all breaks. Use the same procedure to delete other types of breaks, such as page breaks.

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Each section can have separate margins.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Click the "Show/Hide" button -- the paragraph symbol in the Paragraph section of the Home tab -- to display formatting symbols in your document. These symbols make it easier to find the breaks.

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Turn on formatting marks.
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Delete a single break.
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Step

Place your cursor directly before the row of dots indicating a break and press "Del" to remove the break. Placing your cursor after a break and pressing "Backspace" won't work, as the "Backspace" key ignores breaks and deletes the next letter instead.

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Open Find and Replace.
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Step

Click "Replace" in the Editing section of the Home tab or press "Ctrl-H" to open the Find and Replace dialog box, which can seek out and remove multiple breaks at once.

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Pick a type of break to find.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Press the "More" button -- which changes to "Less" after you click it -- to open additional options. Click "Special" and choose a type of break to find, such as "Section Break." When you choose an option, Word inserts a code representing the break into the "Find What" field, such as "^b" for a section break or "^m" for a page break. As a shortcut, type one of these codes by hand.

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Delete or replace breaks.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Click "Replace All" to delete every break of the selected type. To instead replace the breaks with another type of formatting, first place the cursor in the "Replace With" field and press "Special" to select an option, such as "Manual Line Break" -- "^l".