IT tips #22: In MS Word, how to put a landscape page into a portrait document

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NB: Please read the 26/1/2016 update at the end of this page before you try the method below!

This is the problem: you need to insert a large table in landscape format into a document that is portrait the rest of the time. You don’t want to make the whole document landscape for the sake of one page, so you need a way of putting one landscape page into a portrait document. This is how you do it. Although the instructions here are for Word for Mac 2008, the over-riding principle is the same in any version of Word – create a section break, then apply the ‘landscape’ instruction to that section only.

Instructions for putting one landscape page into a portrait document in Word

1.  At the point where you want to create the landscape page, go to Insert>Break>Section Break (Next page)

Putting a landscape page into a portrait document in Word: use a Section Break

The Section Break menu

2. Now go to File>Page setup and change the page orientation to landscape, and if you’re using a Mac, after you’ve done that, change the settings to ‘Microsoft Word’ as shown below.

Putting a landscape page into a portrait document: the Page Setup menu in Mac OS

3.  From the menu that appears, select the option to apply the changes to ‘this section’ 
Putting a landscape page into a portrait document: use "This Section" when prompted in the page setup

4. Press OK. You will now have a landscape page at the point where you made the section break

5. Make your table or whatever it is on this page.

6. When you get to the bottom of the landscape page, repeat steps 1-4 above but change the orientation back to portrait and apply it to ‘this section’. 
NOTES
  • If  you know that this is going to be the only landscape page in the whole document, you can select ‘from this point forward’ when you change the orientation back to portrait in (6) above
  • Even though they’re invisible in print-layout view, Section Breaks can be deleted. If you’re not careful, you can backspace over the section break and put your landscape page back into portrait, or vice versa. If this happens, scream and press ‘Undo’ (CTRL+Z or ⌘Z)
  • To avoid deleting section breaks accidentally, put the document temporarily in to outline view (View>Outline). This will allow you to see where the section breaks are. Once you’ve finished, go back to View>Print layout)

Update on 26th January 2016

A recent visitor to this page has pointed out that when she tries to print the resulting document, the page immediately after the landscape page has its margins corrupted, and is shifted 2.5 inches to the right, and bleeds off the page. I’ve checked this and looked on a number of forums, and sadly, it seems that this may be an intractable problem with Word and page orientation changes.  To be honest, I don’t know what the problem is, and I have no idea whether it’s all versions of Word, all tables, all documents or whatever, but be warned.

In this particular case, the table had been created with tab stops rather than a table grid, which meant there was a nice workaround. If you have tabulated data (rather than a “table”) you can try this:

  1. Select the “table”  (scare quotes are vital here: I mean  “tabulated text” not a “table” in the sense of a grid with data in it)
  2. Click on the Insert menu, and select “text Box” – this will put a text box around the selected text
  3. Click on the + handle on the top LH corner of the resulting text box
  4. Click on the “layout tab” (see below)layout grid
  5. Select “Text Direction” and choose “Rotate all text 270º (or 90º if you prefer)
  6. The text will rotate (rather than the page) – this means that the page numbers will stay in the same position (one of the unfortunate hazards of the other method, is that the page numbers end up relative to the new page orientation – i.e. in the wrong place. It is then a real pain to put them in the right place using text boxes etc.
  7. I guess if you were really keen, you could create a table with the page in portrait mode, but with columns and rows how you’d like them to be when you type in text at 90 or 270 degrees (i.e. long rows, and narrow columns). I don’t like the sound of that, but in theory, it could work if you can (ha ha) get your head round it.
  8. If you have a better way of dealing with this let me know.

Warning 

Be aware that you can’t flip a Word table around like this: it only changes the direction of the text, not the table grid. I’m thinking that the only real workaround if you have a complex table that has to have a grid, and can’t be done with tabs alone, is to export the table as a graphic, and then import the graphic and rotate it into the portrait page as required.

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41 thoughts on “IT tips #22: In MS Word, how to put a landscape page into a portrait document

    1. jonathan Post author

      I’m not sure that you can. I’ve looked through the pages documentation online and can’t see how you’d do it. This might be a good point to trade-up to something more powerful, but don’t take my word for it, it might be there somewhere, but I don’t have pages anymore so can’t check within the programme.

      Reply
  1. Bianca

    Hey there! Thank you for this tutorial. However, I’m having a problem with this. You see, I have a fully formated paper that uses section breaks to separate different types of page numbers. So when I try to do this, I ruin the page numbers or it adds another set of numbers that are on a different space. Please, I need your help.

    Also, is it possible to have the page number on the landscape page the same as on the other portrait pages – that is, if it is possible that the number is on the lower left of the landscape page and sitting side ways?

    My Word is a 2011. I’m also a Mac user. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. jonathan Post author

      My guess is that when you change the orientation using section breaks, it resets any other changes to whatever the default settings for other parameters (such as page numbers) is.

      In theory, you should surely be able to go into the page number dialog for each section once you’ve got the landscape/portrait thing sorted out, edit to put the page number bottom right of the landscape page or wherever it needs to go. But I having terrible problems with the positioning of page numbers in this scenario, and it proved almost impossible to sort out. The position was correct, but the orientation of the number was as if the page was still portrait. In the end, I think a) set the page number to ‘none’ for the landscape section b) created a text box c) changed the text direction within the text box so that it was the right orientation. Even that wasn’t ideal, because it’s hard to get the text box exactly where the page number should be. However, that was a long time ago, and Word 2008. Things may have changed, but I haven’t investigated. Unfortunately, my experience of sections in Word is that it’s volatile and prone to accident, even if the reason is human error – just to easy to muck it up.

      I was curious (just now) to know if people have similar problems in LaTex, and I notice that according to this post, I shouldn’t have been trying to alter the position in the first place.

      Sorry not to be any more help than this – I hope you manage to sort it out.

      Reply
    1. jonathan Post author

      Thanks, glad it helped. I had to remind myself every time I needed to do it that I’d find the solution under “breaks,” that’s partly why I did the blog – to make sure I never forgot again!

      Reply
  2. Susan Olzak

    This does not work with my Mac. word 2011, operating system El Capitan. After looking at the view->outline, all the section breaks are correct, but the page immediately following the landscape is indeed portrait but the margins are not correct and the right-hand side of the page runs off the page. No matter what else I do. I followed these directions exactly.

    Reply
    1. Jonathan Still Post author

      Hi Susan,

      At a guess, I’m wondering if on the landscape page you altered the right indent, and thus the following portrait pages have retained the new right indent, which is correct for a landscape page, but not a portrait one. This could have happened if you tried to stretch the content while the format was still portrait. If you only alter the orientation of the page using the method I’ve described, then Word automatically adapts the right indent according to the page orientation. If you alter it manually for the landscape content, you’ll have to alter it back for the portrait page. I’d suggest that you start over, and change the format of the page to landscape before adding any content. Apologies if this is not correct, but it’s the only reason I can think of why this should happen to you. The change in page orientation appears to have worked for you, what is wrong is the amount of right-indent, which is a different matter.

      Incidentally, I have the same configuration as you (Word 2011, and El Capitan) now, and I’ve checked for any errors in the method.

      Reply
      1. Susan Olzak

        Thanks Jonathan. I followed your directions below and cut and pasted the content after reformatTing and all the rest. I am still getting the next page following the landscape about 2.5 inches over to the right, despite 1 in. margins in the layout and margins on all pages.
        In addition, if I just print the page that follows the landscape page (by itself) it prints normally.

        I am losing my mind. If there is a way to send you the file, I would be very grateful. Thanks, Susan.

      2. Jonathan Still Post author

        If it’s printing OK, is it possible that the only problem here is that you’re continuing to look at the page in Outline Mode instead of Print Preview? In Outline mode, you don’t see the print margins as they’ll occur on the page. Ensure that your in Print Preview and see if it still has the run-over problem. If not, sent me the file and I’ll have a look – though I’m afraid it’ll have to be tomorrow morning (UK time). I’ll PM you my private email.

  3. Justine

    Hi Jonathan. Thanks for the tip; will try it when I develop doc from scratch. Unfortunately I am working with a doc originally created on Windows and transferred onto my new Mac, with latest Word for (downloaded last month). There are a few tables reflecting perfectly correctly, which came across in the doc, but my attempt to cut and paste from another doc and then correct the layout from portrait to word has failed. Tried Microsoft technical support and was told Word for Mac can’t do this.

    Reply
    1. Jonathan Still Post author

      Hi Justine, thanks for the feedback. I don’t want to suggest that MS technical support don’t know what they’re talking about without knowing the precise details, but I can’t see a reason why you shouldn’t be able to change the page orientation, even if you are working on a Mac, and have cut and pasted into from a document that you made with Word for Windows.

      I can’t promise that I can help, but I would be interested if you have time to know exactly what the problem was that you’ve encountered, and what exactly it was that the Microsoft people said that Word for Mac can’t do!

      There are all kinds of problems with page numbering that you can just about get around by following the advice here.

      Reply

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