Hidden Formatting Problems

Today one of my colleagues came to me with a problem:

Section 1 and Section 2 of his report were on the first page, and there was plenty of room to start Section 3 on that same page, but Section 3 wanted to start on the next page, no matter what he tried. Section 3 seemed to have a mind of its own. So he handed the document over to me on a USB drive and asked for my help.

“HERE I come to save the DAY!”

(Remember the old Mighty Mouse cartoons on TV?)

The first thing I did was look for a hidden page break.

In Word, click on Format, then slide down to Reveal Formatting.

This will bring up a window on the right. Look at the very bottom and check the box that says “Show all formatting marks.” If you see a page break, then you can delete it.

The trouble was: there was no page break. Hmmmm…. The plot thickens.

I began to suspect a “Keep with next” code, but there wasn’t one visible.

It turns out that some of the paragraphs in Section 3 were formatted as Header 2 instead of Body Text, and lurking deep in that Header 2 format was – you guessed it! – a “Keep with next” code. I highlighted the offending paragraphs individually and clicked on Body Text format for each one, and voilà ! Section 3 marched back onto Page 1 where it belonged.

One of the keys to avoiding such formatting problems is to have your formats all lined up on the right. To do this, click Format and slide down to Styles and Formatting. Then you can highlight your first major heading and click on Heading 1 on the right. Highlight your paragraph text and click on Body Text on the right. Highlight your bullet list and click List Bullet on the right. Then you won’t need Mighty Mouse to come and save the day.

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