How to Add and Format Page Numbers in Microsoft Word

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When you create a document in Microsoft Word, especially a lengthy one, you may need or want to add page numbers. Whether you’re required to insert them or simply want to to help your readers, we show you how to add page numbers in Word, then format them to your liking.

How to Add Page Numbers in Word

To add standard page numbers in Word, you can choose the location, position, and a particular style if you’d like. The steps are slightly different in Word on Windows versus Mac.

Add Page Numbers on Windows

  1. Go to the “Insert” tab and select the “Page Number” drop-down box in the Header & Footer section of the ribbon.
Page Number on the Word Insert tab on Windows
  1. Move your cursor to the location you want for the page numbers: the top or bottom of the page, within the margins, or in your cursor’s current position.
Page Number locations in Word on Windows
  1. Select an alignment or style in the pop-out menu. You can place the numbers on the left, center, or right, or pick a style, such as bold numbers, brackets, or a circle.
Page Number positions in Word on Windows
  1. You’ll see your page numbers in the location and position you selected.
Inserted page number in Word on Windows

Good to know: you can use Word online for free.

Add Page Numbers on Mac

  1. Go to the “Insert” tab, select the “Page Number” drop-down box, and select “Page Number.”
Page Number on the Insert tab in Word on Mac
  1. In the pop-up window, use the “Position” drop-down menu to choose the top or bottom of the page.
Page Number Position drop-down box in Word on Mac
  1. Use the “Alignment” drop-down menu to place the numbers on the left, center, right, inside, or outside. The last two options alternate pages on the inside or outside corners.
Page Number Alignment drop-down box in Word on Mac
  1. Optionally, check the box for showing a number on the first page.
Page Number on first page checkbox in Word on Mac
  1. Select “OK” to apply the numbers, and you’ll see them appear in the location and position you selected.
Inserted page number in Word on Mac

How to Add Page Numbers for Headings, Chapters, or Articles

If you have headings in your document or use chapters or articles, you can include them with the page numbers. For example, you can see “1-1” for chapter 1, page 1 and “1-2” for chapter 1, page 2.

To include headings, chapters, or articles with the page numbers, you must format the content as a multi-level list with one of these types. If you’ve already done this, you can skip to Step #3.

  1. Select the heading, chapter, or article name and go to the “Home” tab, then click the “Multilevel List” drop-down arrow to view the menu.
Multilevel List button on the Word Home tab
  1. You’ll see two styles for headings: one for chapters and one for articles. Choose the one you want and apply it to your text.
Multilevel List Heading Chapter, and Article options
  1. If you haven’t done so already, return to the “Insert” tab, select the “Page Number” drop-down menu, and choose the location and position as described above. Then, reopen the menu and pick “Format Page Numbers.”
Format Page Numbers in the Page Number menu
  1. Check the box for “Include chapter number.” You’ll see the fields directly below for you to customize. As you pick the options, you’ll see a preview next to “Examples.”
    • Chapter starts with style: choose the heading to begin with from the drop-down menu.
    • Use separator: use a hyphen, period, colon, or dash as the separator between the heading, chapter, or article number and the page number.
Include Chapter Number checkbox and options
  1. When you finish, select “OK” to apply the page numbers. You’ll see the heading, chapter, or article with the page number and other options you selected.
Chapter and page number in Word

Tip: you can export your Word Document as a PDF.

How to Format Page Numbers in Word

You can make other changes to the format of your page numbers that you may find useful, such as start at a certain number or use letters instead of numbers.

  1. Back on the “Insert” tab and the “Page Number” drop-down menu, choose “Format Page Numbers.” You’ll see the same box as described above.
  1. In the “Number format” drop-down box at the top, you can select something other than simple numbers: numbers with dashes, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or Roman numerals.
Page Number Format options
  1. At the bottom of the box, you can choose where to begin the numbering. Select “Continue from previous section” for the default numbering or “Start at” and enter the number you want to the right.
Page Numbering options
  1. Select “OK” to save your format changes.
Page Format box OK button

Use a Different First Page

If you want to eliminate the page number from the first page of your document, this is a simple checkbox. It’s handy if you have a title page for your document where a page number isn’t needed.

  1. With your page numbers in place, double-click inside the header or footer containing the numbers. This opens the “Header & Footer” tab.
Header and Footer tab in Word
  1. Check the box for “Different First Page” in the Options section of the ribbon. The page number will be removed from the first page.
Different First Page checkbox in Word
  1. As mentioned earlier, on Mac, you can also select the “Page Number” drop-down menu on the same tab and pick “Page Number,” then uncheck the box for “Show number on first page.”
Show Number on First Page unchecked on Mac

Note: if your document contains data, be sure to check our guide on creating and customizing tables in Word.

How to Customize Page Numbers in Word

Maybe you’d like your page numbers in a specific font style, color, or size. You can style the text for the numbers like other text in your document.

Double-click the header or footer where your numbers appear. Select the numbering and go to the “Home” tab. Use the options in the “Font” section of the ribbon to adjust the style, size, color, or format.

Font settings on the Home tab in Word

How to Remove Page Numbers in Word

If after you add page numbers in Word you change your mind, you can easily remove them. Do one of the following:

  • Go to the “Insert” tab, select the “Page Number” drop-down arrow, and choose “Remove Page Numbers.”
  • On the “Header & Footer” tab, select the “Page Number” drop-down arrow, and choose “Remove Page Numbers.”
Remove Page Numbers in the Page Number menu

Frequently Asked Questions

Will page numbers be deleted if I remove a header or footer?

As page numbers are part of the header or footer, yes, they will be deleted if you remove the header or footer from your document.

As alternative options, you can remove the header or footer, then add the page numbers afterward or enter the header or footer area and remove the text that you don’t want but leave the page numbers.

Why are my page numbers starting over in Word?

If you notice that your page numbers are no longer in consecutive order and are starting at number 1 again, it’s likely you have a section break in your document. To see any breaks that you may have, go to the “Home” tab and select the “Show/Hide” button for paragraph marks in the Paragraph section.

To correct the numbering but keep the section break, select the page with the first incorrect number and go to “Insert -> Page Number -> Format Page Numbers.” Choose “Continue from previous” and click “OK.”

How do I fix page numbers in a table of contents?

When you use a built-in table of contents in Word, you may have to update it as you make changes – this includes adding or formatting page numbers.

Go to the “References” tab and select “Update Table” in the Table of Contents section of the ribbon.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.

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