Office solution: Word's disappearing header demystified

This week, learn why Word headers sometimes take a header, and disappear from view, and what you can do to get them back.

Last week, we asked why a Word document's header might disappear. Eljensen mentioned that not all views display the header area, which is correct. That's the easiest place to start troubleshooting. Check the document in Print Layout. If the header's still not showing, that's not the problem. Eljensen was the first to respond with the most probable cause, in this case. Word usually displays the white space between the first (or last ) line of text and the edge of the paper.

By default, Word displays the white space, but you can easily hide it without realizing what you've done. Hover the mouse over the top or bottom edge of any page until Word displays the white space arrows. Then, double-click the edge and Word will hide the header (and footer) and the white space. If you want to permanently remove the white space, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab and choose Options (under Help) in the left pane. In Word 2003, choose Options from the Tools menu.
  2. Select Display in the left pane. In Word 2003, click the Display tab.
  3. Uncheck the Show White Space Between Pages in Page Layout View option.
  4. Click OK.

If your documents don't have this white space, someone's probably unchecked this option.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


Working on a measly 20-page document with alternating headers and standard footers with consecutively numbered pages.  Why, when I get to page 20, do both the header and the footer disappear, and why, when I try to nicely supply them, even adding a new consecutive section, do unwanted headers appear on my cover page?  I have been doing the same sorts of things for hours (inserting sections, then renumbering, fixing my TOC and Table of tables) to no avail.

Any wisdom is appreciated.

Word 2010


A quicker way of showing or hiding the white space on your document is to click between the top of your document and the horizontal ruler. You will see a double headed arrow icon (looks like a spin control). You will get the option Show or Hide white space depending on the current state.


Thanks sandra. I have always wondered what these arrows are for.

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