How to Work with Page Numbers in Word Documents?

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How to work with page numbers in word documents? The process of working with page numbers in Microsoft Word seems simple enough. This is true if you’re going for a standard numbering system.

However, if you’d like to do something a little different, like alternative numbering or skipping pages, things can get complicated.

With this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about handling page numbers in Microsoft Word.

Adding Page Numbers in Microsoft Word 

Your Word document can be populated with numbers in various ways. Normally, the Insert menu is used to insert numbers.

Within the Header & Footer area of the ribbon, select the Insert menu, followed by Page Number. From the drop-down menu, choose the option you wish to use. Additional selections can be made under each of these options in order to determine the exact location of the numbers on the page.

Let’s examine each option in depth.

Choose Top of Page from the list.

The following options are all available (all at the left, center, or right of the top margin):

  • Plain Number: Enter plain page number “”
  • Accent Bar: “|Page” or “Page|” on the right or left
  • Bold Numbers: The current page number is x, with y representing the previous page
  • Brackets: Page numbers between brackets
  • Dots: 3 dots above the centered page number
  • Large Italics and Roman: Using italics or roman font for page numbers
  • Tildes: The number of pages with tildes on each side “~1~.”
  • Vertical Line: The number of Page to the left of a vertical line
  • Vertical Outline: An arrow pointing to the right or left is placed above the page number
  • Very Large: Oversized number on the right
  • Circle: Centered page numbers inside a circle
  • Rounded Rectangle: Page numbers inside a rectangle

In addition to selecting Bottom of Page (in the footer), Page Margins (in the page margins), or Current Position (where the current cursor is located), you can choose all of these options as well.

When selecting any of the options, Word will number all the pages according to the style you select.

In conjunction with the Header and Footer menu, the header or footer will appear where you placed the numbering.

insert page numbers in word
insert page numbers in word

Varying Page Numbers in Word

Using the Header & Footer menu, you can change the page numbering throughout your document.

A common mistake people make is to number the title page of the document. Selecting the Different First Page option in the Header & Footer menu on the Options section of the ribbon will prevent Word from printing a page number on the first page.

The first page of the document will be blank, but the numbering will continue on the second page.

You will need to make the first page a different section if you want the second page to start on page 1. The numbering starts on page 1 at the start of the next section.

In this article, we’ll discuss creating sections.

Alternate the page numbering (in style) on odd and even pages. A common practice is to print a page number at the top right corner of the outside corner of every page in a printed book or pamphlet when you flip through the book.

Choose the Different Even & Odd Pages check box located in the Header & Footer section of the ribbon.

When you scroll down to the second page, you’ll see that the first page maintains the page numbering format you chose on the first page, but the second one is blank.

You can insert page numbers under this header (or any other alternative style you prefer) by repeating the process in the first section of this article.

Use Sections to Layout Page Numbering

There is another option to have Word automatically number your pages besides using either of the approaches above. For more control over where page numbers start and stop within sections of your document, you can create Sections.

In order to accomplish this, scroll down to the page where you want the numbering to start at 1 after you’ve created the numbering for your document. You may place the cursor anywhere on this page.

In the ribbon, select the Layout menu and then Breaks from the Page Setup group. Click Next Page under Section Breaks.

Starting with the next page, you will have a new section.

In this new section, you’ll need to restart numbering. Click the Insert menu, select Page Number, and select Format Page Numbers from the drop-down menu.

Select Start at: under the Page numbering section, and select whatever number you’d like to start the new section at (usually “1”).

Click OK to begin the new page numbering in your new section.

Throughout your document, you may repeat this section-by-section approach as many times as you like. Page numbering can be customized as often as needed, throughout multiple sections.

Fixing Page Numbers

If you notice that the sections have messed up your page numbering, you can fix it by redoing those sections.

From the Home menu, select the show formatting symbols icon in the Paragraph section of the ribbon.

It will display unique formatting lines where you have inserted section breaks in your document. The section break line in the last section should be highlighted and deleted if you want to remove the restart of page numbering.

If you do this, you will see that page numbers continue in series from the last page through the next, all the way to the next section break or the end of your document.

Number Pages Using Fields

If only certain pages need to be numbered, but the others just need to be left alone, how would you proceed? Microsoft Word has a feature called Fields that you can use.

Fields in Word let you do many cool things. Word’s fields are special “commands” that you can insert into any document, and Word will populate those fields with the information you specify. A field called “[PAGE]” doesn’t need to be created because it’s a pre-made field in Word.

Insert the current page number anywhere on a page by placing the cursor there. To enable the field, press Ctrl-F9. Where your cursor is, you’ll see curly brackets “[]”.

All you have to do is type “PAGE” between the brackets. You will now need to update this field so that the correct information gets entered. Select Update Field from the context menu by right-clicking the text.

You will see the page number where you placed and updated the field. As with any other text on a page, you can highlight the page number and format it however you like.

The following illustrates the many different ways you can number a page in Microsoft Word and format it in different ways. The best way to change number formatting or numbering structure from one section to another is to create a new section whenever necessary.

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