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Word 2007 Blank Pages Between Chapters

While working on a documentation project for a client we ran into a unique problem.  According to good technical writing practices, you always want chapters to start on an odd page.  This puts new chapters on the right-hand page of a bound book.  You also want to ensure that any preceding blank page is not 100% blank, most standards dictate at least a footer with a page number and possibly a header with the title of the prior chapter (old school methods were to put a “This page intentionally left blank.” message on the preceding blank page, which is one of my favorite all time ironies).  After digging around for hours (OK, maybe 10 minutes) I found the solution to this blank page problem.

It turns out that when you are forcing pages to start on an odd page # for things like a chapter to always appear on the right side of a bound book, you end up with blank pages preceding some of those pages.  That is just how Word works.  If your previous chapter ends on an odd page, it automatically inserts the blank so that the new chapter starts on the odd page as well.   However, it is clearly documented that Word does not put ANYTHING on that page, not even headers or footers.  There is not setting that says “carry headers/footers over to blank pages”.

The official Microsoft solution… use the hard page break, CTRL-ENTER just before the odd-page-break whenever you want to force Word to insert the header/footer on the blank page.

The problem with that solution?  If your document changes the CTRL-ENTER will force a new page ALWAYS.  If your existing work is updated and the prior chapter now pushes up from ending on an odd page to ending on an even page, guess what?   You get TWO BLANK PAGES… one with a footer (the forced blank page) that is now an odd page # with a footer, and an even page with NOTHING… the exact problem you were trying to solve the first go-around.

Bottom line, to get technical documentation standard page footers AND chapters starting on the right-hand page, you will constantly need to scan & manually revise the page breaks in the document every time you update the content, especially if you lengthen any chapter.

Wonderful.  Thanks Microsoft, thank you very much.  Why even provide “odd page break”?  Might as well keep things simple and force 100% manual management of pages with CTRL-ENTER throughout.   Grrrrr… sometimes working with these high tech tools can be so aggravating.     20+ years of MS-Word development and they still don’t have an elegant solution for this common problem.  It was even documented as far back as 2000 and Microsoft had enough inquiries to have written TWO knowledgebase articles about it back then.