How to Number Your Microsoft Word Document

Page numbering in Microsoft Word can become tricky, especially when you need your document to meet a particular formatting standard. Depending on your goal, Microsoft Word offers many ways to format your page numbers.




You might want to vary the numbering format of your pages, change your numbering position, or orient page numbers in a certain way. To deal with any confusion, let’s take a look at some guides to page numbering in Microsoft Word.


Number the Entire Document

This method is ideal for numbering an entire document that is not split into sections. It is also the quickest way.

Click on the Insert option on the Microsoft Word ribbon. In the Header and Footer group, click the Page Number option to select your preferred page number position.

Applying page number to the whole document

In the dropdown menu, the Top of Page and Bottom of Page options have a bunch of additional styles that let you choose the position and appearance of your page numbers. You can also place your page numbers on your document margin by clicking on the Page Margins option.


Place a Page Number Anywhere Within a Page

You can place the page number anywhere on a page by placing your typing cursor at any point you like it to be. To do that, stay on the Page Number tab, select one of the options in the Current Position option.

If you don’t want to use the automatic Current Position option, you can also press Ctrl + F9 to open a curly brace {}. Then type {PAGE} inside the curly brace. Right-click on the curly brace and select Update Field to show the number of that page.

Note that a position other than the header, footer, or the margin can break the continuity of your numbering. Thus, the best places to place your page numbers are in either of these three positions.

If you want to change the format of your page numbering from integers to either alphabets or Roman numerals, click on the Format Page Numbers option. That option lets you choose where to start your page numbering as well.

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Number Pages in Different Sections

If you want to divide your document into sections, you must apply numbers to them separately. There are a few ways to do that in Microsoft Word.


First, place your typing cursor on the line you like to start the separation from and follow the following steps:

Go to the Layout tab of the ribbon.

Within the Page Setup group, click on Breaks, then under the Section Breaks, click on the Next Page option in the dropdown menu.

Applying page number to separately to different sections

Go to the next page that starts the separated section and double-click on its footer or header (depending on where you want to place your page numbers).

In the Navigation group on the Ribbon, click on Link to Previous to unlink the current section from the previous one.

Once the unlinking is done, click on the Page Numbers dropdown menu, then go to Format Page Numbers and check the Start at option to start numbering your section pages at your preferred value.


Check the Start at option inside the Format Page Numbers menu

However, to give the upper part a different number format, place your cursor anywhere on the first page of that section and click on the Insert tab.

Next, go to the Page Numbers dropdown menu and click on Format Page Numbers.

In the format section, you can change your number format to either numerals, alphabets, or maintain the traditional numbering. However, ensure that you check the Start at option to start at “1” or whatever character that applies to your format.

Go back to the Page Numbers dropdown menu and select your preferred page numbering option.

You should delete any extra blank pages that may result from this customization process.


Tip: Swap Between Sections to Number Pages Quickly

Sometimes you might need to make amendments to your page numbers in some sections. To do that, of course, you can always scroll manually from one page to another in your document. However, an easier way is to swap between the footer or the header of each section automatically.

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To achieve that, double-click on the footer or the header of any section of your document (depending on where you place your page numbers).

On the Ribbon, locate the Navigation group. Then click on either Next or Previous to swap sections.

Swap between sections

Apply Page Numbers to Chapters in Word

To personalize the design of your Word document, you might want to break a section into chapters and number each page with respect to those chapters. A nice feature of this option is that once it’s applied, the chapter header becomes a dropdown—this lets you toggle between hiding or showing the content of a chapter in a section. It’s also a great way to beautify and arrange your pages in Word.


To use the chapter numbering option, go to the Insert tab. Next, go to the Page Number option and click on Format Page Numbers.

On the Page Number Format dialog box, check the Include chapter number box to select your header type. Ensure that you select your preferred separator option by clicking the Use separator dropdown menu. Then select Ok.

Customizing the chapter number option

Next, highlight the chapter header of your choice. Go to the Home tab and locate the Paragraph group.

Locate the Multilevel list option and click on the sixth option inside the List Library to insert the content in that chapter in a dropdown. That option also numbers your chapter headers and numbers your pages with respect to them.


Applying chapter numbers to a document

However, your chapter headers might be on the same page. To sort the pagination better in this case, you can move the header of a chapter to a new page.

To do that, place your typing cursor before the header you like to move. Next, go to the Page Layout option and click on Next page under the Break dropdown menu.

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Number Even and Odd Pages in Word

If you like to apply different page number styles to alternate pages, a brilliant option is to treat odd and even pages separately. Interestingly, Microsoft Word offers that option as well.

To do that, double click on a footer to open-up the footer and the header for editing.

Next, on the Ribbon, locate the Options group under the Design tab. Then mark the Different Odd and Even Pages box. Ensure that your pages have been numbered before you carry out this process.


Numbering odd and even pages differently

Once you tick the box, it removes page numbers from the even pages. Thus, leaving only the odd pages with numbers. To give the even pages a different number format, double-click a footer on any of the even pages and follow the steps we described earlier to personalize the even page numbers.

Remove the Page Number From the First Page

You might also want to personalize the first page of every section. A proper way to do that is to remove the numbering from the first page of each section.

To achieve that, click on the footer of any page within a section and check the Different First Page box on the Design tab. That option removes the page number from the first page. You can then manually personalize how you want the first page to come through.


Preventing page number from, appearing on the first page

You can troubleshoot inconsistent page numbers by double-clicking on a footer or a header of a section. And check if it’s not linked to a previous section by ensuring that it doesn’t have “Same as Previous” written at its top.

Customize Your Word Document Before You Share It

Depending on what you want to achieve, the steps in this article should solve your problems with numbering your pages. However, customizing your document doesn’t end here. There are so many more tweaks you can apply with other Word tips.

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