Pagination and Dealing with Unwanted Page Breaks


From time to time, we get questions related to unwanted or inconsistent page breaks. The page breaks generally occur because of the way Author-it controls pagination in Word. So let's explain a bit about how this all works...

How does Word control pagination?

Word has pagination control features that provide some basic control over when page breaks occur. However, these features are not enough for fully automated pagination to a standard acceptable in technical documents, or other types of long documents. Word has 2 main features for controlling pagination:

  1. Paragraph style pagination options - these are set against the paragraph style, which include the following options

    • Widow/Orphan control - Prevents Word from placing the last line of a paragraph by itself at the top of a page (widow) or the first line of a paragraph by itself at the bottom of a page (orphan).

    • Keep lines together - keeps all lines of a paragraph together and will prevent a page break from occurring within a paragraph.

    • Keep with next - keeps the paragraph with the paragraph following it, and prevents a page break occurring between this paragraph and the one following it. This is typical for a heading where you want the heading to always keep with at least the first paragraph of body content.

    • Page break before - forces a page break before the paragraph. This has limited use, but is useful if you want every "Heading 1" or "Heading 2" to start a new page.

  2. Manual page and Section breaks - these are manual breaks and are defined by the Insert break setting in the Author-it Topic. If a section break is chosen, then the associated Media object controls if the page breaks occurs on the Next page, Even page, or Odd page.

How does Author-it enhance this pagination control in Word?

People that are familiar with more elaborate pagination controls will immediately notice that one very important control is missing - Keep with Previous. With this additional control, automatic pagination is achievable. As Word does not natively provide this function, Author-it attempts to simulate it by using a special style called "Allow Page Break".

  1. The first step is to ensure that most of the styles in your Word template used during publishing are set up so that each paragraph stays with the following one - Word's Keep With Next setting - unless it is a List style paragraph where you do not really care where it breaks, or the "Allow Page Break" style. This is the way the default Author-it Word Publishing template ( is setup.

  2. Next, we insert dummy paragraphs with the "Allow Page Break" style applied where page breaks are allowed. Now because the "Allow Page Break" is not Keep with Next, but all the other paragraphs are, these work to "limit" where Word will break. Word is still paginating the document itself, but we are deciding where it is appropriate for the breaks to occur.

This would be an impractical and unmanageable process if you were editing the document directly in Word, but because Author-it is publishing the document, it is able to insert these "Allow Page Break" paragraphs automatically and with no effort.

By default Author-it inserts "Allow Page Break" paragraphs before every heading, unless the heading follows another heading with no text where you do not want a break between headings. Author-it also changes the paragraph immediately following a graphic to "Keep with Next" regardless of its style setting. We found that it is usual for graphics to stay with the text that follows them.

How do you override this "Allow Page Break" style?

This is the best way we found to control Word's pagination behavior, and it works superbly for well-structured documents with smaller topics but it can behave a little odd when you have lengthy topics. If you have lengthy topics that span pages and all paragraphs use the Keep with Next setting, Word must still break somewhere. When left to decide where for itself, it will often not be where you expect - or want - a break to occur. Putting on my purist hat, I would say that your topics are too long and should be split up, which would solve the problem, but then this may not always be practical.

If you do stick with long topics, you could find that because Author-it allows you to reuse topics across and within documents, simply inserting a hard page break may work in one context but not another. So the best way to control this is to manually insert an "Allow Page Break" paragraph directly into your topic where it would be logical for Word to break. This way, Word will only break there if it needs to.

Alternatively you can adjust the styles in your Word Publishing template so that they do or don't use the "Keep With Next" setting. This can often take a bit of experimenting as changing the characteristics of a style in one place, will change it everywhere it is used.

You can also write AfterPublish macros that can run over a document for more custom pagination requirements.