How to add page numbers to a Word document (1)

27 Feb

This article is going to teach you the basics of adding page numbers to a Word document, using Word 2007 or Word 2010. Later articles in the series will tackle more complicated topics such as mixing Roman and Arabic numerals and making sure your first page doesn’t have a number if you don’t want it to.

Why add page numbers to a Word document?

Good question? You might have a perfectly nice, short document, that looks a bit like this ..

1 page

And you don’t really need to add page numbers. But what if it’s going to be a book, or you’re going to introduce a contents page or index? What if people are going to want to quote from it, or refer back to a particular section? Even though if they read your document on their Kindle, they might not be able to see the page numbers, these are all good reasons why you might want to give your readers some page numbers to help them navigate their way through your text.

Where are the menus and buttons for adding page numbers?

As usual, there are a couple of ways to access the menus and buttons you need for adding page numbers. But, again, as usual, they lead to the same place in the end.

Method One involves choosing the Insert tab. Once you’re there, you’ll find a section called Header & Footer, and there’s your Page Numbers button:

2 insert

Method Two involves clicking with your left mouse button in the blank space at the bottom (or top) of your page. Another way to do this is to select the Design tab, but sometimes that doesn’t show up by default. Clicking on the blank bit of the page will bring up the Headers and Footers and your Page Numbers button:

2 click footer

In Word 2003, you can find the page numbers options in the Header and Footer menu.

Now you’ve found the Page Numbers button, it all stays the same from now on, and its menu looks like this:

3 page numbering options

We’ll look at how to position your page numbers, and then how to format them (it’s best to do it this order).

How do I choose the position of my page numbers?

You will find two options for positioning your page numbers:

1. At the top or bottom of the page

2. Elsewhere in the page margins

To choose the position of the page numbers in the top or bottom areas of the page, choose Top of Page or Bottom of Page (the positions are identical for the two). Here we choose Top of Page:

4 number placement options

You can see lots of options for positioning your page numbers, including that fancy “Page 3 of 12” you’ve seen on other people’s documents. To select the position, click on the example that suits you best (you can scroll down for even more choices).

If you try out Page Margins, you will be given another set of options allowing you to insert your page numbers all over the place:

5 number placement options page margin

Again, you can scroll down for even more options.

I find that people have one or two favoured number positions and ignore the others (in much the same way that we only use two programmes on our washing machines). But it’s useful to know how to find all those extra places, in case you’re working collaboratively or with a client who has particular preferences.

Now we’ll look at some basics of formatting your page numbers.

How do I format my page numbers?

This is best done once you’ve decided on the page number position, and you can come back and format them at any time, by finding and clicking on the Page Numbers button. We’re just going to look at the basics here, with more complex choices being discussed next time.

To format the page numbers, find the Page Numbers button and choose Format Page Numbers:

6 format page numbers

Select Format Page Numbers and you’ll find some more options for changing your page numbers from Arabic to Roman (or Roman capitals) and for where to start the numbering:

7 number format

If you drop down the Number format list, you’ll find your choices laid out. You are not likely to want to use anything other than straight Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 …) if you are just using one numbering style for the whole document; the others will come in handy when we learn how to apply different numeral styles to difference sections of the text. But the choices are there:

8 number format

Again, Chapter numbering and Continue from previous section / Start at are mainly used when you’re applying different numbering styles to different parts of your document (Roman numerals for the contents page and foreword, Arabic for the main text, etc.) but it’s worth knowing where to find these choices for next time.

So, let’s summarise and look at how to apply standard, straightforward page numbering to a document.

How do I apply standard page numbering to my document?

If you just want simple numbers in Arabic numerals at, say, the bottom right hand corner of each page, here’s how you do it.

First, click on the Page Numbers button and choose Bottom of Page, then select the example that best fits where you want your page numbers to appear:

9 basic format

Then, choose Format Page Numbers and make sure your options are set to Arabic numerals 1, 2, 3 … and page numbering to start at 1:

10 basic format

Once you’ve pressed OK, you will be back in the Footer of your document, with the main text still in grey and the page number in black, because you’re in the Footer, not the main text:

11 page number

Left click on the body of the text, and the page will reverse – the Footer indicator will disappear, your text will be in black and your number will be in grey, because it’s part of the Footer, not of the text:

12 page number

How do I insert different types of page number into one document?

In this article we’ve learned how to find the Page Numbers button and how to position the page numbers on the page and format them into different kinds of number. In Part 2 of this series, we look at adding different kinds of page number to different parts of the document, and more complicated formats for page numbers.

If you have found this article useful, please share it using the buttons below, and leave me a comment!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “How to add page numbers to a Word document (1)

  1. Tina P.K.D.

    March 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Having issues adding page number AND Footer on the same line in the footer section. Adding one seems to preclude the other.


    • Liz at Libro

      March 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Hello Tina, which version of Word are you using and what exactly are you trying to do? Let me know and I’ll try to help further.


  2. Tina P.K.D.

    March 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    2007 version. I have a 250 page document with a lot of sections, headers, footers, tons of lists with bullets, numbers, and 4 level indents and hundreds of tables and figures…. but I’m having an issue adding footer information (document name and version number) on the same line as the page number. I add the page number and the other footer info disappears or vice versa.


    • Liz at Libro

      March 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      OK, I’ve done some looking up and the way to get round this is to use one of the Header styles (click on Header, drop down) that already includes a page number. Then you can use insert-quick parts-filename to add your filename. You can manipulate the layout of the footer to make sure your filename appears in one line (e.g. if you try using the first layout on the list that has a page number). I hope that helps!


  3. Lydia

    March 10, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Hello, after spending a couple of days trying to number my thesis to no avail, I came to this page…it worked like a charm, many many thanks


  4. John

    April 17, 2018 at 4:58 am

    Word 2007 Whenever I try adding page numbers for the first time after launching the app, the page disappears. I then have to try again and it works. I have tried re-installing the WOrd 2007 file. Futile. How do I fix this annoying problem? Thank you


    • Liz Dexter

      April 17, 2018 at 7:07 am

      Thank you for your question, John. I’m afraid I’ve not come across this problem before. The only thing I can suggest is uninstalling and re-installing Word. Upgrading to Word 2013 or Word 2016 might be in order, too. I have the Office 365 subscription which means I get updates and patches that fix problems, but I appreciate this is more useful for pro users as involves an outlay.



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