How to delete a “blank page” in Word
Users often ask how to get rid of a blank page that is being printed at the end or in the middle of a document. How to approach this problem depends on whether or not the page is actually blank. A simple test will help you decide: Can you see the page? That is, in Print Layout view or Print Preview, does Word display the empty page? If so, it is not really “blank.” Read the next section to find out how to deal with it. If the page is not displayed, even in Print Preview, unless you’re displaying facing pages, then the page really is “blank” and is being created by Word; see “True blank pages.”
“Blank” pages that aren’t really blank
Except for the blank even or odd pages that Word inserts as needed before an Odd or Even Page break (see “True blank pages”), most “blank” pages aren’t really blank. If a page “prints,” it’s because there is something on it. Obviously, that something is invisible to the user. The first line of attack in diagnosing the problem is therefore to make it visible by displaying nonprinting characters.
When you do this, you’ll suddenly see a lot of markings that may be unfamiliar to you if you’ve never before displayed nonprinting characters (or “formatting marks”). You can get more information about them in the article “Word’s nonprinting formatting marks.”
The one you want to concentrate on is the paragraph mark: ¶. Every time you see that mark, it indicates an empty paragraph. Delete all the empty paragraphs and you’ll most likely get rid of your “blank page.” The following sections will explain a few situations in which deleting empty paragraphs will not work or will not suffice.
If your problem document is a résumé based on a Microsoft template, it will almost certainly be created using a (borderless) table. In Word 2007 and above, this is easy to diagnose because, when you click anywhere in the document, the contextual Table Tools tab is added to the Ribbon. In earlier versions, you may have no such clue. To make the table easier to visualize and work with, you need to display the table gridlines (which show the cell boundaries:
If there is a table at the very end of your document (of if, in the case of a résumé, the whole document is a table), Word will insist on having an empty paragraph after the table. You will not be able to delete this paragraph because the paragraph holds the formatting for the entire document (or the last section if there is more than one). The end-of-table marker cannot hold this information because it contains information about the formatting of the table.
If your table completely fills the “last” page, the empty paragraph will result in a “blank” page following it. Although you cannot remove this paragraph, you can make it disappear. One way to do this is to make it very small. Select the paragraph mark and format the font size to 1 point. You may need to make the paragraph line spacing 1 point as well. Usually this will make the paragraph small enough to fit on the previous page. If it does not, you will need to make the paragraph Hidden (see below). If you make the paragraph Hidden, it will not disappear until you again hide nonprinting characters (by pressing Ctrl+* or clicking the Show/Hide ¶ button).
To format the paragraph mark (or any text) as Hidden, select it and press Ctrl+Shift+H; sometimes this doesn't "take" for paragraph marks, so you will need to use one of these other methods:
Blank page in the middle of a document
If your blank page occurs in the middle of a document (and is not caused by an Odd/Even Page section break), there is a remote chance that it is caused by a plethora of empty paragraphs, but more often it is the result of a manual page break. This is one reason manual page breaks are discouraged: when formatting changes (either because of editing or because the document is opened on a system using a different printer), the manual page break may immediately follow a natural page break, causing a blank page.
In order to see a representation of a manual page break, you must display nonprinting characters. In Word 2003 and earlier, the break is displayed as a dotted line across the page. In Word 2007 and later, it is a shorter line.
Partially blank page in the middle of a document
Sometimes the problem is not an entire page that is blank but just a large empty space at the bottom of a page that you can’t get Word to fill. If you don’t see a manual page break, the likelihood is that the page break is being caused by paragraph formatting. Whenever a page ends short for no apparent reason, examine the formatting of the paragraph(s) at the top of the following page to see whether “Page break before” or “Keep with next” is checked.
Although “Page break before” or “Keep with next” formatting alone will not result in a blank page, it frequently accounts for a partially empty page and could result in a blank page if the “blank” page contains a single paragraph mark formatted as “Page break before,” followed by another “Page break before” paragraph on the next page.
Does your document have more than one section? You can find this out by pressing Ctrl+End (to go to the end of the document) and looking at the status bar. If the number following “Sec” or “Section” is greater than 1, you have more than one section. (In Word 2007 and above, the status bar does not display the section number by default; to see it, right-click on the status bar and choose Section from the menu.)
When your document has more than one section, they are separated by section breaks. You can see the different kinds of section breaks as follows:
A Continuous section break does not cause a page break. A Next Page break causes the following text to start a new page. An Odd Page break causes the following text to start a new odd page. If the text before the break ends on an odd page, Word will insert a blank even page between the two odd pages. This page is completely invisible to the user (except in Print Preview with facing pages displayed) but will be “printed” by the printer. Similarly, an Even Page break may cause Word to insert a blank odd page.
Sometimes a Next Page break will be converted to an Odd Page break. This frequently happens when a landscape page appears on the back of a portrait one, or vice versa. The reason for this is that most printers really don’t like to print landscape; rotating text and graphics is apparently a more complex operation for them. It seems to be especially difficult for them to duplex (print both sides of) pages with different orientations. Word accommodates this reluctance by changing Next Page breaks to Odd Page so the printer can print the pages on separate sheets. But you don’t have to put up with this laziness; you can make the printer shape up and do what you want!
If you find that your Next Page break has morphed into an Odd Page break, don’t make the mistake of trying to delete and reinsert it. This may result in loss of formatting and rarely accomplishes what you want. Instead, with the insertion point below the section break (in the section that begins with the wrong kind of break), go to the Layout tab of Page Setup:
Change the “Section start” back to “New page.”
Blank pages not caused by Word at all
If you are getting a blank page at the end of every document you print and have exhausted all other explanations, check the printer Properties to see whether there is a “separator page” option that has been enabled.
This article copyright © 2004, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2016 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.