Add Page Numbers in Word Documents using Headers or Footers

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 9, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can add page numbers in Word documents at the top or bottom of pages using headers or footers. When you insert page numbers in headers and footers, they should be inserted as fields so that they will automatically update as the document is edited. In this article, we’ll review page numbering in simple and more complex Word documents.

Recommended article: How to Add or Remove Page Breaks in Microsoft Word

Note: Some Ribbon tabs may appear with slightly different names if you are working on Word 365 and have a smaller screen or different display settings. Buttons on the Ribbon may appear as icons only and are also affected by screen size and display settings.

Numbering pages in a one section document

By default, Microsoft Word documents contain one section.

To insert page numbers in a one section document:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Header & Footer group, click Header or Footer. A drop-down menu appears.
  3. Click Edit Header or Edit Footer (although you can select one of the building blocks that appear, you will have more control over your header or footer if you edit it yourself). Word displays the document in Header / Footer mode. A Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab appears in the Ribbon.
  4. Click in the header or footer.
  5. If you would like text to appear (such as the word Page), type it.
  6. In the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab, click Page Number. A drop-down menu appears.
  7. Select Current Position and then Plain Number. A page number field is added to the header or footer.
  8. You can select the page number field by dragging over it and then apply formatting such as font size or alignment (on the Home tab in the Ribbon).
  9. To return to the document, double-click anywhere in the document area. You can also click Close in the Header & Footer Tools Design tab. To easily return to Header / Footer mode, double-click in the header or footer area.

The following Header & Footer Tools Design tab appears in the Ribbon when you are in Header / Footer mode:

Add page numbers in Word using Header & Footer Tools Design Tab in the Ribbon.

You can also press Alt + Shift + P to insert the page number field.

Turning off the display of page numbers on the first page in a one section document

Some users may want to turn off the display of page numbers on the first page of a document.

To turn off the display of page numbers on the first page in a one section Word document:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Header & Footer group, click Header or Footer. A drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select Edit Header or Edit Footer. Alternatively, you can double-click in the header or footer area.
  4. In the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab, check Different First Page in the Options group. Word creates a different header and footer for the first page of the document and a regular header and footer for all other pages. You can now enter page numbers, text or images in the First Page Header and / or First Page Footer if you’d like.
  5. To return to the document, double-click anywhere in the document area. You can also click Close in the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab. To return to Header / Footer mode, double-click in the header or footer area.

Below is the Different First Page check box in the Header & Footer Tools Design tab:

Different first page option to display different page numbers in header and footer in Word.

Understanding page numbers and sections

You can add different page numbers in sections in a Word document. Each section can have a different starting page number, a different numbering style (such as roman numeral) or no numbering at all. For example, you could create a document with three sections with a section for a title page with no numbering, a section for a table of contents page with roman numeral numbering that starts with (i) and another section for the main document that starts with Page 1.

Numbering pages with different page numbers using sections

If you want to have different numbering in parts of a document (such as restarting numbering after a table of contents or using roman numeral numbering), you’ll first need to create sections.

To create a section in a Word document:

  1. Click in the document where you want to insert a section break.
  2. Click the Layout or Page Layout tab in the Ribbon and click Breaks. A drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select a type of section break (normally Next Page under Section Breaks).

Breaks appears in the Page Setup group:

Insert section break command in Word to allow different page numbers in a document.

Viewing section breaks

It’s a good idea to click Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group on the Home tab in the Ribbon so you will be able to see where section breaks have been inserted in your document:

Show and hide paragraph marks command in Microsoft Word.

With Show/Hide ¶ on, section breaks normally appear as follows:

Sample section breaks in Word document with show hide paragraph symbols on.You can also view section breaks by clicking the View tab in the Ribbon and selecting Draft in the Views group. To return to the default view, click the View tab in the Ribbon and select Print Layout in the Views group:

View tab in Word with Draft and Print Layout to display section breaks.

Inserting page numbers in a section and changing numbering

If you want to change numbering in different parts of a Word document, you will need to separate your document into sections and create different headers and footers in the sections.

Typically, you will want to ensure that the header and footer in the section are not linked to the previous section’s header and footer. For example, if you have two sections, one for a table of contents and a second section for the main document, click in the second section and unlink the header and footer with the previous section’s header and footer.

It’s best not to add any text, images or page numbers in the headers or footers before you unlink the headers and footers.

To set up page numbering in a section and then change numbering:

  1. Add section breaks where necessary.
  2. Click anywhere in the section in which you want to add page numbers and restart page numbering.
  3. Double-click in the header or click the Insert tab and the Ribbon, select Header and then Edit Header.
  4. In the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab in the Ribbon, click Link to Previous to deselect it (to break the link with the header from the previous section).
  5. Click in the footer.
  6. In the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab, click Link to Previous to deselect it (to break the link with the footer from the previous section).
  7. Click in the header or footer and in Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab, click Page Number in the Header & Footer group. A drop-down menu appears.
  8. Choose Current Position and then Plain Number. A page number field is inserted.
  9. Drag over the page number field to select it.
  10. To change the page numbering in the section, click Page Number in the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab and click Format Page Numbers. A dialog box appears.
  11. Enter a number beside Start at if you want to restart numbering (such as 1).
  12. If you would like a different numbering style (such as roman numerals), select a style from the Number format drop-down menu.
  13. Click OK.
  14. To return to the document, double-click in the middle of the document.

The following dialog box appears when you select Page Number and then Format Page Numbers in the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab:

Page number format dialog box in Word to restart numbering.

You can also right-click a page number field and select Format Page Numbers from the drop-down menu to access the Page Number Format dialog box:

Format page numbers command in drop-down menu in Word.

Similar to a one section document, you can select Different First Page for specific sections if you’d like. Click in the section, double-click in the header or footer and select Different First Page on the Header & Footer or Header & Footer Tools Design tab. You can also select Different Odd & Even Pages.

Be very careful when deleting section breaks. If you delete a section break, the current section takes on the section settings from the following section and your headers, footers, page numbering, orientation and margins could change.

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Summary
How to Add Page Numbers in Word Documents (Step-by-Step)
Article Name
How to Add Page Numbers in Word Documents (Step-by-Step)
Description
You can add page numbers in Word documents at the top or bottom of pages using headers or footers. When you insert page numbers in headers and footers, they should be inserted as fields so that they will automatically update as the document is edited. In this article, we’ll review page numbering in simple and more complex Word documents.
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Avantix Learning

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