Working with Sections

Word supports the notion of a section, a division of a document having the same page layout settings, such as margins and page orientation. This is how, for example, a document can contain some pages in portrait layout and others in landscape. Each section also defines the headers and footers that apply to the pages of that section.

Most Word documents have only the single section that comes by default and further, most of those have no reason to change the default margins or other page layout. But when you do need to change the page layout, you’ll need to understand sections to get it done.

Accessing sections

Access to document sections is provided by the sections property on the Document object:

>>> document = Document()
>>> sections = document.sections
>>> sections
< object at 0x1deadbeef>
>>> len(sections)
>>> section = sections[0]
>>> section
<docx.section.Section object at 0x1deadbeef>
>>> for section in sections:
...     print(section.start_type)

It’s theoretically possible for a document not to have any explicit sections, although I’ve yet to see this occur in the wild. If you’re accessing an unpredictable population of .docx files you may want to provide for that possibility using a len() check or try block to avoid an uncaught IndexError exception stopping your program.

Adding a new section

The Document.add_section() method allows a new section to be started at the end of the document. Paragraphs and tables added after calling this method will appear in the new section:

>>> current_section = document.sections[-1]  # last section in document
>>> current_section.start_type
>>> new_section = document.add_section(WD_SECTION.ODD_PAGE)
>>> new_section.start_type

Section properties

The Section object has eleven properties that allow page layout settings to be discovered and specified.

Section start type

Section.start_type describes the type of break that precedes the section:

>>> section.start_type
>>> section.start_type = WD_SECTION.ODD_PAGE
>>> section.start_type

Values of start_type are members of the WD_SECTION_START enumeration.

Page dimensions and orientation

Three properties on Section describe page dimensions and orientation. Together these can be used, for example, to change the orientation of a section from portrait to landscape:

>>> section.orientation, section.page_width, section.page_height
(PORTRAIT (0), 7772400, 10058400)  # (Inches(8.5), Inches(11))
>>> new_width, new_height = section.page_height, section.page_width
>>> section.orientation = WD_ORIENT.LANDSCAPE
>>> section.page_width = new_width
>>> section.page_height = new_height
>>> section.orientation, section.page_width, section.page_height
(LANDSCAPE (1), 10058400, 7772400)

Page margins

Seven properties on Section together specify the various edge spacings that determine where text appears on the page:

>>> from docx.shared import Inches
>>> section.left_margin, section.right_margin
(1143000, 1143000)  # (Inches(1.25), Inches(1.25))
>>> section.top_margin, section.bottom_margin
(914400, 914400)  # (Inches(1), Inches(1))
>>> section.gutter
>>> section.header_distance, section.footer_distance
(457200, 457200)  # (Inches(0.5), Inches(0.5))
>>> section.left_margin = Inches(1.5)
>>> section.right_margin = Inches(1)
>>> section.left_margin, section.right_margin
(1371600, 914400)