Word: How to remove a page break without removing the following heading style

January 12, 2011


Your document uses multi-level numbered Heading styles, many of which are referred to as automated cross-references in other parts of the document (e.g. Section 3.2). However, the author has inserted a hard page breaks immediately before a heading. If you delete the hard page break, the heading becomes normal text and the cross-reference to it gets broken. Unfortunately, you don’t realize this until you update the fields in your document and find you have a whole lot of ‘Error! Reference Source Not found.’ messages.


Force a ‘page break before’ the heading BEFORE you remove the manually inserted page break.

Here’s how:

  1. Place your cursor anywhere in the heading.
  2. In the Paragraph settings dialog box, go to the Line and Page Breaks tab and select the Page break before check box. Click OK.
  3. Delete the manually inserted page break.
  4. Optional: Clear the Page break before check box if you really don’t want this section to start on a new page.

Your heading retains its style and any information used by cross-references that refer to it.



  1. I need help! I’m working with Word 2010. I’ve created a toc, and insert a page break after the toc. BUT when I update my table of contents, it takes the page break out automatically. I can’t figure out how to make this stop…or fix the problem. I need for the page break to stay in place.

  2. Hi Diane

    If you’ve inserted the page break immediately after the TOC (i.e. on the next line), then it will get clobbered. I don’t know why, but Word’s TOC always seems to include the following (empty) paragraph.

    There are two things you can try:
    * Insert a couple of extra empty paragraphs after the TOC and then insert the page break, OR
    * Go to the text after the TOC (likely a heading) and apply the ‘Page break before’ attribute to that text (as described in this blog post).


  3. Excellent thanks, I always find headings a total pain to work with, but this is making life a bit easier!

  4. Great idea… I find that having a heading after a page break formats the page break in such a way that the page before the heading is affected! For example, if I have a large point size for the heading, then the page break ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE is also at that large point size. If I change the point size on the page break, then it changes on the Heading as well. It is as if they are linked some how. Drives me CRAZY!

  5. This didn’t work. Do you have another solution? Why does the heading feel it needs a page break before in order to be numbered?

    Also, another weird thing: I find if I type a number “1” at the beginning of the heading itself, the multi-level list number will *also* magically reappear. But as soon as I delete the 1, both it and the multi-level list “1” disappear. So I can either get




    but not what I want, which is


    What gives? I’m pulling my hair out trying to figure this out! It doesn’t make any sense!

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