Insert Page Breaks and Remove White Space

I have to start each new section of my document on the top of the page. Then I have to remove any section breaks that create large gaps of white space. If I remove the breaks, it changes the formatting of the category heading. How do I reapply the Heading 2 style?

Submitted by Anonymous

ANSWER: There are two ways to insert page breaks in Microsoft Word: manually insert a page break, or modify a style to start on a new page. I’ll show you how to insert a manual page break, then show you how to delete the white space without breaking your layout.

Inserting page breaks

Follow these steps to insert the page breaks:

  1. Open your document, then insert the cursor at the end of the line before the section you want to start on a new page.
  2. In the ribbon on the Insert tab, find the Page group.
  3. Click Page Break.
    Insert page break button
  4. Repeat this process for each section.

Once you are finished, you may need to do some additional clean up on your document.

Removing white space

As you can see in this sample document, there is a big chunk of white space that needs to be removed after creating the new page. This is most likely caused by improper use of carriage returns, tabs, and spaces to format the document.

page layout showing too much white space

You need to delete the breaks that are causing layout problems. The only way to delete the breaks without accidentally changing your formatting is to be able to see what you’re doing.

Press Ctrl + * (Ctrl + Shift + 8). This activates the Show All toggle.

Show All revealing breaks that need to be removed

Now we see why the second section is located too far down the page! There are three extra line breaks, a section break, over two lines of tabs, and a bunch of spaces that were inserted with the space bar.

This is very common so it is good to know how to fix the problem.

First, look at the two headings. Do you see the blue paragraph symbol after each one? That is where the style information for the heading is stored. If you cut and paste the text, make sure to keep the style information with it or you will lose your formatting. In other words, highlight the whole line including the hidden character before you cut or copy.

Now you can carefully delete all of the extra characters. Highlight all of them, then press Delete on you keyboard.

Press Ctrl + * to Hide All.

Your document should look like the following:

A clean, properly spaced layout

If you need to reapply Heading 2, follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the heading text or insert your cursor within the text.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click Heading 2.
    Quick Style for Heading 2
  3. Press Ctrl + S to save.

Now you have a nice clean document.


(These comments were from a previous commenting system. If you want to add to the discussion, use the comment box at the bottom of the page. Thanks!)

Word 2007
by: Aretha

Thank you so much you are a life saver. I understand the text better now.

You’re Welcome!
by: Sue

I’m glad this helped you. Good luck with your document!

White space
by: Linda

Ive done as you suggested – there are no formatting marks to see. Still can’t get rid of large white space under header.

Can’t Delete White Space – Hidden Table or Style?
by: Sue

Linda: It sounds like you might have either a hidden table or a paragraph style that is causing the trouble.

If you hover over the heading text, does a small box with a plus sign appear on the top left? If so, click it. It will highlight the hidden table.

The easiest way to work with a hidden table is to show the borders. Here’s how:

  1. With the table still highlighted, right-click.
  2. Select Borders and Shading from the menu. The Borders and Shading dialog box opens.
  3. On the Borders tab, select All.
  4. Click OK.

Once you can see the table borders, you can drag the cell border to shrink the row that is causing the white space below the heading.When you are finished, follow the same directions as above, but on the Borders tab, select None.

If a table is not the culprit, then the white space may be set in the Paragraph settings.

Here is how to fix it:

  1. Place the cursor in the heading.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the little arrow in the lower right corner to launch the Paragraph dialog box.
  3. On the Indents and Spacing tab, under Spacing, change the After setting.

If the After spacing is already set to zero or a low number and changing it doesn’t get rid of the white space, place the cursor in the following sentence, then repeat the instructions. Only this time, change the Before spacing.

I hope this helps! If not, I can troubleshoot the actual document for you. Use my contact form to get in touch with me.

Extra Whitespace Below Header – Fixes Continued
by: Sue

To continue with Linda’s problem, there is an issue that can cause excess whitespace between the page header and the first line of text in your document.This has to do with how you have set your page margins and your header margins.

For instance, if your top margin is set to 1.25″ and your header margin is set to .25″, you will have almost an inch of whitespace below your header.

First, check to see what your top page margin is set to. Then check your header margins. To do this, double-click inside the header to activate it, then follow these steps:

  1. On the Header & Footer Tools Design tab, find the Position Group.
  2. Change the Header from Top setting.
  3. Click Close Header and Footer.

Hopefully one of these fixes works for you!

large white space under header
by: Anonymous

I’ve had this problem. If you double-click on the white space it opens the header for editing. But it’s only on some of the pages. If you pull on the header marker in the left ruler to shrink the size of the header, the header bottom bounces down to the footer, overlapping the body text. It’s weird. I think it’s a software bug.

White space under header
by: Charlotte

I have this exact same problem – random white spaces under the header, different on different pages, same section – it’s sending me insane! No marks, nothing’s there, only it’s pushing the text right down and it looks stupid.

No idea what to do :o(

Random solution
by: Charlotte

I actually managed to get rid of mine, somewhat randomly, by deleting page breaks and carriage returns that appear at the end of the paragraph/section where the weird white space appears above. It just clicked back into where it should be – two incidents.Hope it works for someone else too, maybe?Charlotte

Style that starts on new page
by: Anonymous

One solution was to modify a style to start on a new page, but there were no instructions for that in the article.

Modify Styles to Start on a New Page
by: Sue

Thanks for the heads up Anon. Here is the link to that page: Modify Styles to Start on a New Page

My documents show all the line returns and spaces between words
by: Anonymous

How do I eliminate these characters when I view my document. I have no confidence that it will be submitted on-line without seeing these characters.

Toggle off Formatting Marks
by: Sue

Hi Anon: To turn off formatting marks, press Ctrl+* (In other words, press Ctrl+Shift+8 all at the same time).

Fix to huge space in header
by: Daniel

OK, so I was having the same problem where, after inserting a page break, a huge amount of space was in the header, for no apparent reason, with no marks nor anything else. So after going crazy for a while, I figured out the solution. If you go to page layout > page setup. In the layout tab, where it says Page. Make sure it is not in anything other that top. I had it in Centered, so everytime I inserted a page break, the text would appeared centered. So change this option, and problem fixed.

Sanity Saved by “Fix to huge space in header NEW by: Daniel “
by: Eliz

Daniel is a genius. This was driving me CRAZY. Page layout, Page vertical alignment fixed my issue. YEA!

Thanks, Daniel!
by: Sue

Daniel…thanks for your input. It is obvious you aren’t the only one who has run into a vertical alignment problem! I always appreciate it when my readers add their tips and fixes. Thanks so much!

I have lost my page breaks!
by: karen

For some reason while I am in the middle of my dissertation, working with microsoft office 2003 at home and 2007 in uni, I have lost all page breaks and my work looks like one continuous piece of paper. What can I do?

Hiding or Showing White Space Between Pages
by: Sue

Hi Karen: Make sure you are in Print Layout View and not Draft view. (These options are located on the View tab.) In Print Layout View, there should be a thin gray line between pages. Hover your mouse over it until you see an icon that shows two arrows facing each other. Once you see that icon, double-click. The white space between the pages should reappear. This is a toggle, you can repeat the process to hide the white space again.


  1. Alex says

    I also faced this problem.
    I solved it the following step:

    1. right click on the headings, then left click modify
    2 In Modify Style panel, left cilck Format, then choose Paragraph.
    3 On the top of the paragraph panel, left click “line and page breaks”
    4 make sure to check “Keep with next”.

    Problem solved

  2. Shonah says

    Hi Sue

    Thank you for the great articles. I’m really learning a lot. I’m busy with a document in word. I have set my paragraph and spacing settings and enjoy using the “show” indent button for guidelines. All was well with my document until I double clicked to show the white space. I don’t have any “arrows” showing unnecessary space in between but still have stack of white space between each document. Please could you tell me how I can get rid of the white space on each page so that I can see the text and page breaks?

    I much appreciate it.
    (South Africa)