How to add page numbers and bookmarks in Google Docs

Learn how to point everyone to the same place quickly using page numbers and bookmarks in Google Docs.

Drawing of 3 pages, with "Page Numbers" label (on right) pointing to page numbers in upper right corner, and "Bookmarks" label (on left) pointing to blue bookmark in left margin.

Illustration: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Google Docs offers a few options for page numbers. First, you can choose whether to put the page number in the header or footer of your document. Second, you may select whether to number every page or to start the sequence after a title page. Google Docs bundles these options and presents you with four settings (as shown below). In a web browser, Google Docs includes additional page number features, such as the ability to insert the total page count, as well as an option to number pages differently in different sections.

Google Docs also offers in-document bookmarks, which let you link to specific text within a document. For example, if you want people to discuss specific sections of a Google Doc, you select text, add a bookmark, then insert a link to each of the bookmarks at the start of your Google Doc. When people open the Doc, they may click (or tap) on the inserted links to go to the bookmarked text.

SEE: 10 free alternatives to Microsoft Word and Excel (TechRepublic download)

Here's how to work with page numbers and bookmarks in both the Google Docs mobile apps (on Android and iOS devices), as well as in a desktop-class web browser.

How to insert page numbers in Google Docs mobile apps

Tap to open the Google Doc app (on either Android or iOS devices), then open a document that you can edit.

1. Tap the + symbol in the upper right corner.
2. Scroll down the list of items, then tap Page Number.
3. Tap to select one of the four page number format options (Figure A):

  • Number In Header, Number Every Page
  • Number In Header, Number Every Page After A Title Page
  • Number In Footer, Number Every Page
  • Number In Footer, Number Every Page After A Title Page

Figure A

Three screenshots that illustrate the sequence: (left) + and then Page number, (middle) the four format options, (right) page number displayed.

Tap the + in the upper right, then choose Page Number (left). Tap your select page number positioning and sequence (center). The selected option displays in your Doc (right).

How to insert page numbers in Google Docs on the web

Go to https://docs.google.com, then double-click or tap to open a document you can edit. From the menus, choose Insert | Page Numbers, then tap to select from one of four page number formats (Figure B). Note: The page number options are the same as those listed above in the mobile section. 

If you prefer additional control over numbering, you may select Insert | Page Numbers | More Options, then select your numbering location and counting sequence preferences. These options include the ability to number sections either continuously or differently.

Figure B

Screenshot of the menu open to the four page number options.

Select Insert | Header & Page Number | Page Numbers | then choose one of four page number options.

You also may insert the total page count, which can help convey a reader's place in a document. To do this, choose Insert | Page Numbers | Page Count. People sometimes insert additional characters between the page number and page count; for example, you can use this feature to display something such as "7 of 9," where the first number is the page number and the second number is the page count.

How to insert bookmarks in Google Docs 

Within any Google Doc you can edit, move your cursor to a location you wish to add a bookmark. In the Google Docs app for iOS, tap the + (in the upper right), then tap Bookmark (Figure C). Or, in Google Docs in a web browser, choose Insert | Bookmark. A blue bookmark icon will display to the left of the line of text where you inserted the bookmark. Note: As of November 2019, Google Docs on Android does not offer an insert bookmark option.

To remove a bookmark, click or tap on the bookmark icon to select it, then choose Remove.

Figure C

Three screenshots: (left) Arrow points at the + option in the upper right area of a Google Doc, (middle) menu with arrow pointing at Bookmark, (right) Blue bookmark in the left margin of a Google Doc on iOS.

Position your cursor where you want a bookmark in your Google Doc, then tap the + in the upper right. Tap Bookmark from the menu at the bottom. Your bookmark displays in the left margin in Google Docs on iOS and on the web.

How to link to a bookmark in a Google Doc

To link to a bookmark, place your cursor at the location in your document where you want to add a bookmark link. Then, in the Google Docs app for iOS, tap the + (in the upper right), then tap Link. Or, in Google Docs in a web browser, choose Insert | Link. 

After you do, click or tap Bookmarks below the link box, then click or tap the link you wish to insert. By default, a link will display, drawn from the text where you inserted your bookmark (Figure D). You may edit the link text, if you like, then either tap the checkmark (in the iOS app) or select Apply (in Google Docs in a web browser).

Figure D

Three screenshots that show the sequence described in the caption, with an additional screenshot of the created link at the bottom of the group.

In Google Docs on the web, choose Insert | Link (upper left). From the menu that displays, choose Bookmarks, then select the bookmark to which you want to link (upper right). Modify the link name, if you like (middle right). Google Docs displays your link (by default, underlined and in blue) (bottom).

What's your experience?

If you add page numbers in Google Docs, which placement and format do you most often use? Have you used the bookmark feature in Google Docs? If so, how have you found the feature helpful? Let me know, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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