Use two Word features to keep headings with paragraphs

Use these two paragraph formats in Word to keep text from breaking across pages and losing its heading text.
Word creates new pages automatically as you enter text. You don't have to do a thing, but you can exercise control when you don't like the results. One situation that might arise is keeping a heading with the following paragraph. Sometimes that type of break won't matter. When it does, you can force Word to keep the heading with its text.

To illustrate this behavior, let's fix the problem in the document shown below. The heading falls just before a page break that pushes some of the following paragraph onto the next page. It isn't wrong as is, but depending on the paragraph's purpose (or length), you might want to keep it together.

To keep a paragraph from breaking across two pages, do the following:

  1. Right-click the heading.
  2. From the resulting context menu, choose Paragraph.
  3. Click the Line and Page Break tab.
  4. In the Pagination section, check the Keep Lines Together option.
  5. Click OK.

Immediately, Word will adjust the break by pulling the text at the bottom of the first page to the beginning of the second. Doing so presents a new problem - the separated heading.

That's quickly remedied by right-clicking in the heading text and repeating the above steps. This time, select the Keep With Next option.  Doing so pushes the header onto the next page - everything's together!

Now, the truth is, this is a contrived example because usually, you can produce the same results by applying the Keep With Next option to the heading from the get-go. Sometimes, that one step will push the heading and the entire paragraph onto the next page - bypassing the Keep Lines Together option altogether. I forced the issue so you could see the possibility. When applying either option to your work, take the simplest route, unless your conventions force otherwise.

This discussion wouldn't be complete without mentioning styles. If this problem grows beyond an occasional fix, consider adding the appropriate setting to a style. That way, Word will automatically keep headings with the first line of the following paragraph. You could even go so far as to create a special style for paragraphs that you don't want to break across pages and specify the Keep Lines Together setting. Using styles would take the guesswork out of the breaks entirely.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


All [b]Heading[/b] styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) have the 'Keep Lines Together' option defined by default. Also, as [i]jean.gerrekens[/i] mentions, headings can be formatted with "space before/after" directly in the Normal.dotm or Normal.dotx templates.


There is another useful option to avoid having a single line of text at the top or bottom of a page: the Widows/Orphans control check mark in the "format paragraph" menu. Another caveat: people ten to add white space between paragraphs by just pressing several times. In order to make the "keep with next" setting effective, headings should be formatted with "space before/after" values instead. Otherwise, the heading will follow a blank line, which is not exactly what is expected ;-)