Formatting in Microsoft Word can get funky. Here are four ways to delete a random blank page in Word documents and manage your invisible page breaks.
In Microsoft Word documents, unwanted pages — usually blank pages — are a common mishap. When entering content from the keyboard, pressing Ctrl + Enter is the manual method for forcing a new page, and while I recommend you not use that method, most Word documents have a few hard page breaks. Considering how easy it is to end up with a blank page, you might expect Word to provide an easy way to delete a page, regardless of how it’s inserted, but there’s no quick-click option that will do so. In this article, I’ll show you four ways to delete an unwanted page in a Word document.
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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use an earlier version. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .docx and .doc files. Word for the web doesn’t support the Navigation pane method. In fact, Word for the web doesn’t display the entire blank page the way the desktop version does—it is hard to select a blank page. Show/Hide is available though.
As you work through the different methods, remember to use Ctrl + Z to undo the page delete between sections so you always have a blank page to delete.
How to find page breaks in Word
Word supports two types of page breaks: a hard page break entered by pressing Ctrl + Enter and a soft page break, entered by Word to wrap text at the right margin. The only way to delete the latter is to remove characters before or after it. Either way, a soft return will be in the mix somewhere if the text wraps to the top of the next page. You can sometimes adjust where a soft return occurs, but you don’t actually delete them. This discussion is about hard page breaks.
When working with page breaks, try enabling Word’s Show/Hide feature. Doing so displays both hard page and section breaks, making it easy to locate and remove them. Figure A shows a three-page document with two page breaks.
You’ll find this option on the Home tab in the Paragraph group. Once you find the page breaks, they’re easy to delete when working with only a few.
1. How to use the Ctrl + Page Up shortcut in Word
When you need to display a single page, regardless of its contents, position the cursor at the beginning of the page that follows the page you want to remove, and press Delete. This works because the last character or code before the following page has to be a page break. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for moving the cursor to the top of the current page so you have to manually position the cursor yourself.
The Ctrl + Page Up might be a bit of help, but it goes to the top of the previous page. What this means is that you can use this shortcut if the page is truly blank. Even then, you might have trouble if there are paragraph marks before the page break. If the page has content, including blank lines, Ctrl + Page Up won’t work as expected. Fortunately, there’s an easier method.
2. How to use the Navigation pane to delete pages in Word
Possibly the easiest way to change a single page is to use Word’s Navigation pane. It requires only a few clicks:
- Click the View tab and then click Navigation pane in the Show group.
- In the Navigation pane, click Pages.
- Click the blank page (Figure B) and press Delete. You’ll know the page is selected by the thick blue border.
If the blank page happens to have a few paragraph marks before the page break, you will have to press Delete accordingly—once per paragraph mark.
Sometimes there’s no hard page break to remove; what do you do then?
3. What to do when there’s no hard page break to delete in Word
It’s possible to force a new page using hard line returns. Figure C shows a blank page created by hard paragraph returns, also known as paragraph marks. The paragraph marks are a visual representation of pressing the Enter key.
To delete this page full of paragraph marks, select all the marks (Figure C), and press Delete.
When the page you want to delete is the last page of the document, simply click inside the last page and start hitting Delete until you reach the bottom of the previous page.
4. How to select and delete a page in Word
If you can see the page break, you can delete it without a shortcut or special pane. Simply select it and press Delete. As you can see in Figure D, there are two page breaks: one at the bottom of page one and a second at the top of page two—the blank page. In this case, select the one at the top of page 2 by clicking (twice) in the left margin next to the page break. Then, press Delete.
What’s curious is the page break at the bottom of page 1. It appears to be totally unnecessary. It’s a good idea to check page breaks when you find them so close to the bottom of a page and you don’t intend to force a new page. Chances are, as in this case, you can delete the page break without moving content. This situation happens more often that you might think. That’s why I recommend enabling Show/Hide when cleaning up individual page breaks.
The recent article, How to quickly delete multiple page breaks in a Word document shows you how to delete multiple page breaks.