In my homebrew D&D game, I use a lot of house rules and think it is important to document them so players know how they work. To that end, I maintain my own Player’s Handbook that includes my set of rules. MS Word’s section break implementation makes this a lot more work than it should be.

What I Want To Do

The entire document is formatted as two columns. At the top of each chapter, I want a chapter heading that spans the entire width of the page (one column). That’s easy enough. Select each chapter heading and click on Page Layout | Columns | One and Word will automatically make the necessary adjustments.

The Problem

Word uses continuous section breaks instead of section breaks that skip to the next page. That means that if the last page of the current section doesn’t exactly fill the page, the two columns will be equalized so as to have an equal amount of white space at the bottom of each. Instead, I would prefer to have the left column fill to the bottom of the page and then have remaining text (if any) use the right column.

MS Word Section Issue

The Obvious Fix

This problem results from the use of the continuous section break followed by a manual page break opposed to a section break that skips to the next page. Well, the obvious thing to do is to replace the type of section break being used. As expected, this fixes the problem. Unfortunately, it introduces another problem.

MS Word Section Issue

I’m Calling This One A Bug

As you can see from the screen shot, the two column section ends in a Section Break (Next Page). The section is left formatted the way I want. The first line of the next page has Section Break (Continuous) which is required to define the one column section for the header. After the header there is another Section Break (Continuous) where two columns are again specified for the remainder of the page. Everything is now formatted correctly with one exception.

The Section Break (Continuous) on the top line, just above the header, takes up space! The text isn’t printable but it still occupies a line which shifts the header down by one line. As far as I am aware, there is no way to correct that.

A Workable Solution

This isn’t really a fix but it reduces the problem to the point where I consider it a workable solution. Highlight the top line containing the Section Break (Continuous) and set the font size to 1. Also be sure that the next line has Spacing Before set to 0. In a large document this is a tedious fix but it should do the trick.