When Word won’t resize a page

Did you ever get that message when you try to change the size or orientation of a page or the kind of break that begins a section? “Settings you chose for the left and right margins, column spacing, or paragraph indents are too large for the page width in some sections.”

Here’s what you get when you click on “Show Help”:

“This error can appear if the margins are too large or small for the current printer, or if you:”

The page range might be invalid. A valid page range is the slide numbers or ranges using commas or dashes, with no spaces.
Print to a page size that is not supported by the printer.
Change the margins of the page, and that range is not supported by either the printer or the printer driver.
Print using a landscape setting and the printer driver is set to portrait (or the reverse).

Print a set sized object that does not fit into the printable region.
Print to a margin default that exceeds the printable area of the page (can sometimes happen after changing the default printer to a different printer).
For example, setting the left and right margins to 5 inches (no room for content to fit on the page).
Use print scaling (the percentage size to print the final content) set to a number below 10 percent.
Printing issues associated with a network printer are best handled by your local network administrator or support personnel.

That’s a lot of possibilities to check out (not to mention the awful grammar: “if you: The page range might be invalid”). There is another cause suggested by the pop-up box with the error message: an undefined number of columns. (Thanks to my manager at work, Michael Bowers, for discovering this and the solution.) First, make sure that the whole document should have only one column. Then select everything (Control+A) and go to the Page Layout menu, and under Columns, choose 1 for the number of columns.

If some of the document should have two or more columns, then select those sections and set the number of columns at 2 or whatever number of columns you want; then select the rest of the document and set the number of columns at 1.

One reader asked me to “walk the whole dog” and explain how to properly insert section breaks once you’ve fixed the columns or any of the ten problems suggested by “Show Help.” Walking less than a whole dog sounds pretty weird, so I don’t want to do that!

First of all, Word uses continuous section breaks to set off portions of the document with a different number of columns. If you use the Page Layout menu to change the number of columns for selected text, Word will but in continuous section breaks at the start and end of the section. Or you can insert a pair of continuous section breaks yourself and then select the text between them and change the number of columns.

If you want part of a document to have pages of a different size or orientation (portrait vs. landscape) or a different header or footer (the parts outside the copy area of a page, at the top and bottom), you need to make it a different section, and you don’t use continuous section breaks for this, you use odd, even, or next page section breaks. Next page section breaks are also called “new page” breaks, depending on which menu you’re using.

Choose the type of break you want from the Page Layout menu. There’s a pull-down menu (indicated by a little black triangle) for Breaks. Just click with the mouse where you want to insert a section break and then go to the menu and choose the type of break you want. To change the kind of break that begins a section, don’t delete the break; that will merge two sections, and that may cause problems. Instead, click within a section and then use the Page Setup menu (at the bottom right corner of the Page Layout menu) to change the type of section break.

Once you’ve inserted section breaks at the beginning and end of part of a document, you can click within that part and use the Page Layout menu to choose the size and orientation. Before you change those, make sure you want the header and footer to remain the same. For example, you might have page numbers at the right-hand margin or aligned to a center tab. If you change the orientation of a page to landscape, for example, such tabs might no longer be in the same places on the page. In that case, you want a different header or footer or both in your new section, but you want to keep the header and footer the same in the sections before and after the new section. Before you change the page size or orientation, click in the header and footer of the new section and make sure the Link to Previous box isn’t checked in the header and footer tools. Then do the same for the following section. You don’t want that one to change either, and if the header and footer are linked to the previous (new) section, they will.

I think that’s the whole dog. If I missed something, or if you have a question or can offer additional help, please leave a comment.

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