Understanding Page and Section Breaks in Pages

When creating word processing documents you can insert page breaks and section breaks. It is helpful to think of both types of breaks as actual characters in your text, and you can see them as such when you show invisible characters. Page breaks are simply ways to force the text to start on the next page. Section breaks are more complex, giving you control over properties of the pages within the sections and also allowing you to re-arrange pages in your document.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Understanding Page and Section Breaks in Pages.

When working in Pages it's important to understand both page break and section breaks. Here I have a blank word processing document in Pages. These things only really apply to word processing documents, not page layout documents like brochures and flyers and things like that.
So I have a blank document here and I can insert some text. Let me just type the word one here on the first page. I can insert any other text that I want. Some blank lines, anything. Now here under Insert I have both Page Break and Section Break.

So page break is pretty simple. You insert that and it jumps to the next page. Basically what you're saying is after this point everything is going to start on the very next page. It will always clear to the next page. So I have this stuff on page one and this on page two. Now I have View, and Show Page Thumbnails turned on. I have also shrunk it a bit here by dragging the divider. So you can see clearly I've got page one and page two. In page two here, let me type the word two and a few blanks lines, and I can go back and forth between one and two.

Now let me insert another one. I can use the Toolbar here. There's also an Insert. Here I can insert another page break. Page breaks are very simple. Really the only thing they do is basically say clear the rest of the page and jump to the beginning of the very next page. So I have three pages here.

One thing that people have trouble with a lot, when dealing with multiple pages like this and with page breaks, is they want to rearrange things. They say, well you know I want three and two to be switched. With the thumbnails here on the left they try to drag them and they find out they can't drag it and it's very frustrating. That's because pages are always sequential. It's still basically one long piece of text with page breaks in there.

Let's take a look by going to View and Show Invisibles. Show Invisibles will actually show things. Like here are the returns and paragraph breaks after each line. Also you'll see the page breaks. They're this blue line here and a little page at the end. I can go to the next page and you can see there's the one there and the next page here I don't have one there at the end there. So you can visually see this. It's really useful to think of this as actual physical character on the page because it really is one. As a matter of fact if you wanted to get rid of it I could simply use the forward arrow here, you can see I'm just before this line break there, I go to the next line, you can see I'm just before the page break and I forward arrow again and I go to the beginning of the next page.

Now if I were to Delete it would delete the previous character. The previous character if the page break. So by deleting it I get rid of it there and I've merged the two pieces of text on those two pages there. So think of it as this extra character that is there.

Now what about being able to arrange pages. If that's your goal then Page Breaks aren't what you want. What you want are Section Breaks. So at the end of page three here I'm going to insert a Section Break. Now I'm going to use the back arrow key, the left arrow key here, to go back and you can see I've got what looks like a page break character here, because I still have Show Invisible, right, but it's a little bit of a different icon showing me it's a Section Break and not a Page Break. It's seems to behave the same, right. Clears the rest of the page and I go to the next page which I'll call four. That's handy but it seems to be doing the same thing.

Let's do another Section Break here. Now I have page five. I can use the back arrow here and I can see there's that character there at the end of page four. Now, what's the difference. Well there are a bunch of differences between section breaks and page breaks. Page breaks, as I've said, are very simple. They just clear to the next page. That's all they do.

Section breaks are a lot more complex because each section you create, and now there are three sections, I've added three section breaks. One after page three, one after page four. So pages one, two, and three are part of section one. Page four is section two and page five is section three. If I go to Document, the Document sidebar and hit Section, which I've had open here, there are a bunch of different things that change by section.

For instance, like Headers and Footers. How page numbering works, that kind of thing. So you can actually have different page numbering and different Headers and Footers on each section. That's one way sections are very different than pages. Another thing you can do is you can drag and drop sections here in the thumbnails on the left. So I can grab any page in the first section here, see they group together and it says three there, and I can actually move section one around. Likewise I can grab page four, and that's a section by itself, and I can move that before section one or after section three.

So sections can be moved. If you're doing the kind of thing where, say, you don't want to do a page layout document. You still want to do word processing but you want each page to be a separate item and you want them to be able to move around. Then instead of creating page breaks create section breaks. You'll be able to move any page into any spot. If you want to ever have more than one page as a group you just create a page break there. So you can have three pages that are in a group, two pages that are another group, another section. A page by itself that's a section. All of that. These sections then are movable.

So it's important to understand the difference between page breaks and section breaks and be able to turn on these invisible characters here so you can actually see them and get used to actually thinking of them as characters that are actually inserted in your text.

Comments: 3 Responses to “Understanding Page and Section Breaks in Pages”

    8 months ago

    Great! So this would be useful for a book, say on the solar system: Preface (pages i-ix), Chapter 1 Mercury (pages 1-7), Chapter 2 Venus, etc. And the Chapter headings could be changed at each section, I imagine. With the book title SOLAR SYSTEM at the top of all?

    I have been too lazy to figure it all out but knew this could be done, so thank you very much. Now if I can keep my pictures and text boxes IN PLACE and stop them jumping around, I may get ahead a little bit. Thank you, Gary!

    Mae McM
    8 months ago

    I thought I understood how sections work… but I guess I don’t. I can create them, but when I use a newsletter template it won’t let me delete the second page without deleting all of the information. It’s in word-processing format so I thought I could do this. PLEASE tell me what I’m doing wrong. Thank you Gary for all of your wonderful videos.

    8 months ago

    Mae: To delete a page in word processing format, just remove the contents on the page and the page will go away. If you have inserted a Page Break to create that page, delete that too. There is no other way to delete a page.

Comments Closed.