Display chapter numbers as page number components in a Word document

Displaying a page number is easy. Displaying the chapter number and the page number is just as easy - if you use Word styles.

When Word documents are long and complex, you can help yourself by using some of Word's built-in styles and features. I know some of you hate the thought of it - but it's worth it. For instance, including a chapter number in your page-numbering scheme could be a complicated task, but not if you put Word's styles to work for you.

First, you need the chapter elements in place. Simply add chapter numbers, where appropriate, using the Multilevel List option - choose the option that complements your document's purpose the most. To illustrate this quick feature, we'll enter a few chapter headings using this option, as follows:

  1. On the Home tab, choose the Chapter list from the Multilevel List option.
  2. Word will enter the generic text, Chapter 1. Enter a title, or not.
  3. Add a couple of blank pages and repeat step 1, so that chapter 2 begins on page 3.
  4. Add a blank page and repeat step 1 (chapter 3 begins on page 4).

This list option uses Word's built-in style, Heading 1. If you don't like the style, modify it in this one document to suit your needs. Don't create a new chapter heading style - Word won't work with it the same way.

Now that you have your chapter headings in place, you can add a page-numbering scheme that includes the chapter number - you're going to be surprised just how easy it is! First, open the header and footer sections by double-clicking either section. Then, with the section open, do the following:

  1. Click the contextual Design tab (if necessary).
  2. In the Header & Footer group, choose a page number from the Page Number dropdown.
  3. Next, click Format Page Numbers from the Page Number dropdown (in the Header & Footer group).
  4. Check the Include Chapter Number option. At this point, you can also change the separator - I chose the em-dash character.
  5. Click OK.

The newly formatted page number for page 1 is 1—1: chapter 1, page 1. The page number for page 2 is 1—2: chapter 1, page 2, and so on. As long as you use Word's built-in heading styles (quickly available via the Multilevel List option), this process is automatic - just enable the chapter number in the format!

Demo Word files are provided to help explain the technique.


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.

Editor's Picks