Unlinking Headers and Footers

If you work much with headers and footers in Microsoft Word, you’ve probably noticed that when you insert a section break, it’s automatically set to “Same as Previous.” For many Word users, especially in the publishing world, this is an annoyance. If I’m creating a new chapter in a book, I want my headers to be *different* from those in the previous chapter, not the same. Ideally, there should be a way to set this (or not) as an option:

[] Automatically set headers and footers to “Same as Previous”

As far as I know, this option doesn’t exist. If you know otherwise, please let me know, and I’ll include your tip in next week’s newsletter. In the meantime, here’s a macro that will go through a document’s headers and footers and unlink them all:

Dim curSection As Section, curHeader As HeaderFooter
For Each curSection In ActiveDocument.Sections
For Each curHeader In curSection.Headers
curHeader.LinkToPrevious = False
Next curHeader
Next curSection

If you don’t know how to use macros like that one, you can learn here.

The macro won’t set the option permanently, but at least you’ll no longer need to unlink all of your headers and footers by hand.

Thanks to Susan Bullowa for suggesting this topic.



I’ve received so many great tips from readers that I’m simply not able to include everything in this week’s newsletter. My apologies to those who are still waiting; in some cases, I’m holding messages to go with a specific article, so they may not show up for several weeks. Thanks for your patience. And please, keep those tips coming!

After reading last week’s exchange about automatic formatting in Word’s Document Map, Hilary Powers wrote:

After describing the problem of non-heading items showing up in the Document Map, and restoring themselves to it after being removed by a VBA routine, Bill Fosbury wrote:

I will

* run my program to change the outline level to “body text”

* then add the headings that I want

* the next time I open the file the document map builder will be happy

the next time I open the file because I will have some heads and I will

therefore not look for candidates.

To which Jack Lyon writes:

What you’ve said makes perfect sense. Document Map can’t work unless it

has something to work with. So if it doesn’t, rather than just sit there

blank (and leave the user wondering why nothing’s happening), it

autoformats the document so it *will* have something to work with….

That’s certainly the way it looks like it’s working, or at least ought to work, but it’s not. At any rate, I too have a charming little VBA routine that gets rid of garbage on the Document Map. And when I save the file and reopen it, all the garbage is back. But. Garbage appears unpredictably, whether or not a file has headings defined using Word styles, and as far as I can tell, once a file develops that sort of garbage it never loses it permanently. Meanwhile, if no lines in a file look like headings, the Document Map will show up with nothing in it; it doesn’t have to find something and put it up. Nobody’s found a fix for this over on the Word-PC list; I’ve just got the cleaner on a hot key and run it as needed.

I’m not certain if the Document Map ever lets go of stuff it’s defined–it may well do so, as many files never develop garbage. But just defining a set of headings is no guarantee that it won’t go its own cluttered way….


After reading last week’s article on automatic dashes, my longtime friend Richard O’Regan wrote:

I disagree with you on the use of the en dash. At least, over here, in “old Europe,” the en dash, preceded and followed by a space, is used both in the UK and on the Continent. The em dash no longer sees the light of day.


Lindy M wrote:

I share your preference for the em dash rather than the spaced en, but I do use the latter, for one reason: it’s easier to control line breaks. With a nonbreaking space before the en dash I can ensure it always breaks at the end of a line rather than at the beginning. I can’t find any way to attach an em dash to the end of a word other than spacing it, which would look excessive to my eye. I might add that some people firmly believe that dashes should appear at the beginning of a line, not the end. I don’t. I should also confess that I use Word as little as possible. From what I’ve seen it handles em dash breaks elegantly, but some other word processors and page layout programs need help with this sort of thing, especially older versions.

Thanks to all for their comments and suggestions.



I’ve been almost in despair about what to do about spam. Then here comes an email message from my Aussie mate Steve Hudson, who pointed me to Cloudmark’s free SpamNet program:


Unlike other such programs, this one uses the power of distributed computing to identify and block spam. It’s not foolproof, but it’s sure caught an awful lot of spam for me. Check it out!

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