How to number your book’s pages in MS Word

For authors self-publishing their books, among the biggest challenges is placing the page numbers, especially if formatting in Microsoft Word.

The easiest approach is to simply create a header in which the book’s title is centered at the top and a footer in which the page number is centered at the bottom of every page. Then the only challenge is making sure those headers and page numbers start on the correct page.

To do that, let’s start with page numbers. We’ll presume you have a preface and foreword as well as an introduction, and that you want your page numbers on the bottom of the page.

Begin by placing your cursor after the last letter or number in your table of contents. Next, click “Layout” in the ribbon. Then use the pull down menu for “Breaks.” Click “Next Page.” This inserts a section break in your manuscript, though you won’t see it unless you click “Home” and the paragraph symbol in the middle of that ribbon.

After that, click “Insert” in the ribbon. Click on the pull down menu for Footer. You can choose what page number style you want to use. I recommend “Banded” as this is a simply a number that is centered.

A new ribbon pops up on your screen. Look for “Link to previous” and make sure it is off.

Click the pull down menu for “Page Number” on the ribbon’s left side and select “Page Number Format.” Change “Number format” to the Roman numerals i, ii, iii… In the same box, turn on the button for “Start at:” and make sure it says “i.” Then click OK.

Next, place the cursor at the end of your text for your preface or foreword, whichever comes before the introduction. Repeat the steps above beginning at “click ‘Layout’” in the ribbon.

When you get to the “Page Number Format” box, change “Number format” to the Arabic numbers 1, 2, 3… In the same box, turn on the button for “Start at” and make sure it says “1”. Then click OK.

You’ve just successfully numbered the pages for your manuscript.

For your book title at the top of the page, you essentially do the same except use “Header” rather than “Footer” and skip the “Page Number” box. Start the header for your book with the second page of whichever comes first, the preface or foreword.

This system does mean that even blank pages and those that start your chapter will have a header and page number on it. That’s not a big deal for your page number, but usually you don’t want the first page of a chapter or a blank page to have your header. The solution is to start new sections before and after each chapter’s first page. Each chapter’s first page will be its own section with a blank header.