Five tips for working beyond Word's page-numbering basics

Word offers a variety of standard ways to enter and format page numbers in a document. But these advanced tricks will let you achieve far more control and flexibility for your specific needs.

Page numbering isn't mysterious, and the built-in settings are more than adequate for normal page-numbering schemes. However, it often seems harder than it should be to get things just right. In some cases, the built-in settings simply don't provide the flexibility you need. The following tips will help you move beyond the basics of Word page numbering for those times when basic functionality just isn't enough.

1: Set up independent section numbering

A single set of sequential numbers won't always be adequate for every document. You might have sections that require page numbers that are independent of other sections in the same document. For instance, a document might contain a couple of pages of front matter or a cover page. In this case, you might want the front matter to begin with i, ii, and so on, while the first page in the main document begins with 1. Accommodating this arrangement is easy, but the technique isn't obvious when viewing the built-in features.

First, you must separate the sections that require independent page numbering. If you've already inserted a manual page break (by pressing [Ctrl]+[Enter]) between the two sections, delete it. To define the two pieces as separate sections, do the following:

  1. Position the insertion point at the beginning of the first page of the second section. In the case of the example document (Figure A), you'd position the insert point at the beginning of the line with the text Main Document.
  2. Click the Page Layout tab.
  3. In the Page Setup group, click the Breaks drop-down. In Word 2003, choose Break from the Insert menu. Then, click Odd Pages.
  4. Choose Odd Page. In Word 2003, click OK.

Figure A

Add a section break between the front matter and the main document to separate the two sections of this document.

Now you're ready to add page numbering to the main document. With the insertion point still in the main document section, do the following:

  1. Open the header by double-clicking that section.
  2. In the Header & Footer group, click the Page Number drop-down and choose Format Page Numbers.
  3. In the Page Number Format dialog, click the Start At control and enter 1, as shown in Figure B. (You can start with any number, not just 1.)
  4. Click OK.
  5. From the same Page Number drop-down, choose Top Of Page and then Plain Number 1 to turn on the page number display. Figure C shows how both sections of your documents now display page 1 on the first page of each section. (I've increased the font size so you can see the numbers.) You're actually inserting a field, not just a number.
  6. Close the header section (click the header tab).

In Word 2003, do the following;

  1. Choose Header And Footer from the View menu.
  2. Click Format Page Number on the Header And Footer toolbar.
  3. Continue with steps 3 and 4 above.
  4. Click Insert Page Number on the Header And Footer toolbar.
  5. Close the header section by clicking Close on the Header And Footer toolbar.

Figure B

Enter the first page number for the current section.

Figure C

Both sections start their page-numbering scheme with 1.

The current setup might be just right. It certainly isn't wrong for the two sections to have the same page numbers. If you add a second page to the front matter, Word will display page 2. However, the first page of the main document will still display 1. It's likely that you'll want to apply a different format to the front matter's page numbers, as follows:

  1. Open the header in the front matter section.
  2. Choose Format Page Numbers from the Page Number drop-down (in the Header & Footer group). In Word 2003, click Format Page Number on the Header And Footer toolbar.
  3. Choose i, ii, iii, ... from the Number Format drop-down and click OK.
As you can see in Figure D, the page numbers for each section are formatted differently.

Figure D

With this format, the front matter's page numbers won't be mistaken for part of the document's main content.

You can add as many sections as you need. When you use section breaks instead of manual page breaks, Word can easily accommodate different page-numbering schemes in each section.

2: Display words instead of digits

You can apply formats to page numbers the same way you would any other content. Simply select it and apply the appropriate format. However, there will be times when those formats won't be adequate. For instance, there's no built-in format that displays the word equivalent of each page number instead of the digit. Fortunately, a couple of field switches will deliver what you need.

First, enter the page-numbering field (see #1). Then, press [Shift]+[F9] to display the page number field code. Now you're ready to add the switches. First, delete the \*MERGEFORMAT switch (if it's there) -- it isn't needed. Then, enter \*CardText \*CAPS as shown in Figure E. Press [F9] to update the field. Figure F shows the results. (You might need to select the entire field and press [Shift]+[F9].)

Figure E

Add these two switches to the page field.

Figure F

The CardText switch displays the word number; CAPS applies proper case.

Two other switches that you might want to use with page numbers are \*Alphabetic and \*Roman. The first will display letters; the second will display Roman numerals. (To display all lowercase letters, use \*alphabetic and \*roman.)

3: Use numbering fields for non-numbering purposes

Page numbers are the result of fields, but you can use those fields to do more than display numbers. For instance, you can use them to display a document's name on only the last page of a document. There's no built-in feature that can do this, but the following combination of the PAGE, NUMPAGES, and FILENAME fields can:

{ IF { PAGE } = { NUMPAGES } { FILENAME \p } }

You can enter this expression anywhere, but most likely, you'll want to add it to the header or footer. To enter this expression from the keyboard, do the following:

  1. In your header or footer, type IF.
  2. Press [Ctrl]+[F9] to insert empty field braces after the F.
  3. Type page.
  4. Press the right arrow key twice to pass beyond the closing bracket and press =.
  5. Press [Ctrl]+[F9] and type numpages.
  6. Press the right arrow key twice to pass beyond the next }.
  7. Press [Ctrl]+[F9] and enter filename \p, as shown in Figure G.
  8. Select the entire field and press [Ctrl]+[F9] to turn the entire expression into a single field expression.
  9. Press [F9] to update the field and then go to the last page of your document to see the result (Figure H).

Figure G

This expression combines several fields.

Figure H

Update the field to display its results.

4: Inhibit page number for a specific page

Word doesn't offer a built-in setting for inhibiting the page number on a specific page. Fortunately, you can use a field expression as you did in #3. The key is to find the right expression. For instance, the following field expression inhibits the page number for page 4:

{ IF { PAGE } <> 4 "{ PAGE }" "" }

You can enter this expression manually or using the Field dialog box. If you type it yourself, you must enter the spaces before and after the inequality sign (<>). If you use an equal sign instead of the inequality sign, the expression will display a page number only on page 4.

5: Use fields to add text

Sometimes, you need to add a word or phrase to your page-numbering scheme. Again, the easiest way to do so is to add a switch to the PAGE field. For instance, the following field expression will display the phrase The End on the last page but display the page number on every other page:

{IF {PAGE} < {NUMPAGES} {PAGE} "The End"}

You can include any text. All you need is the right field expression to determine on what page(s) Word should display the text.