Sections, Section Breaks, and Headers and Footers in Microsoft Word

Word 97-2003 (for Word 2007-2013 click here)


Sections are the Word feature that controls page number formatting, headers and footers, orientation (portrait/landscape), margins and columns. If you are having problems or questions with one of these, you need to know more about Sections in Word.

What You Will Learn

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
bulletUse sections in Word
bulletUse different types of Section Breaks.
bullet View Headers and Footers
bullet Edit Headers and Footers
bulletUse advanced formatting in Headers and Footers
bulletDifferent First Page
bulletDifferent Odd and Even Pages (i.e. for mirrored headers/footers - two-sided printing)
bulletDeal with orientation changes from Portrait to Landscape and back
bulletSet up Columns in your Document
bulletHow to have Word tell you which Section you are in
bulletHow to Print a Range of Pages from a Particular Section or With Multiple Sections
bulletInsert a Watermark, Stock or Custom, and Add Your Custom Watermarks to the Gallery
bulletInsert a Watermark on only the first page of a multi-page document (or only on continuation pages)
bulletSet different page margins for different sections
bullet Troubleshoot Sections, Headers, Footers, Page Numbers & Watermarks

Additional Written Resources
bulletThis chapter revised for Word 2007-2013
bulletWord for Law Firms by Payne Consulting Group:
bullet Word 97 for Law Firms (also at Amazon.com UK)
bullet Word 2000 for Law Firms (also at Amazon.com UK)
bullet Word X (2002) for Law Firms (also at Amazon.com UK)
bullet Working with Sections (or Why Word appears to behave so illogically when you delete or move a section break or How to preserve section formatting when pasting between documents) by Dave Rado, MVP
bulletCreate dictionary-style headers / footers describing page contents. Charles Kenyon.
bulletHow can I get a different header - footer on the second page in Microsoft Word? Charles Kenyon. Includes tips and links on creating letterhead and letter templates.
bullet Headers and Footers in Word 2003 - From Basic to Elaborate - a Tutorial
bullet Using Headers and Footers by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP - excellent and comprehensive web page
bullet How to Control Page Numbering in a Word Document by Bill Coan, MVP. Using Fields for Page Numbering - Much more Control
bullet How to Put a Portrait Page Number on a Landscape Page by Bill Coan, MVP, Dave Rado, MVP, and Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet The Straight and Narrow: Using Columns by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP and Dave Rado, MVP.
bullet Letterhead in Headers - Template that can add itself to File menu
bulletLetterhead System - download a system for letter forms that can be easily updated
bullet Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial - two-page template download that demonstrates use of 
bullettextboxes in headers and footers to reserve space for preprinted letterhead
bulletStyles that are based on each other and use the style for following paragraph feature
bulletUse of the StyleRef field to insert information from the body of a letter into the continuation page headers automatically
bulletInsertion of a date automatically that will not change when you open the document at a later date (but can be changed manually)
bulletSee How can I get a different header - footer on the second page in Microsoft Word? for more on how this tutorial works.
bulletDate Fields in Microsoft Word
bullet So You Want to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word - extensive tutorial by MVP Daiya Mitchell with overview of Styles, Templates and Sections and the interactions among these tool/features. Excellent! Not just for those who want to write books!
bullet How to prevent a header/footer from being edited by Bill Coan, MVP
bullet How to prevent a header/footer from being edited by Bill Coan, MVP
bullet How to set up a document with front matter numbered separately by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet How to set up a document with front matter numbered separately - 2007/2010/2013 by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet How to number headings and figures in Appendices by Shawna Kelly
bullet FileName and Path Add-In - Adds Shortcut Key to insert the FileName and Path field at Cursor Position
bullet FileName and Path Templates - .dotx and .dot files with filename and path fields in all three footers
bullet Different Page Numbering in Header and Footer demonstration - .docx and .doc files with page numbers by document in header and by section in footer.
bullet Document Splitter by Greg Maxey - addin to break document into component documents


Click to return to table of contents page of Legal Users' Guide to Microsoft Word.
(this guide table of contents) ------- (MS Word New Users FAQ)

This chapter last edited by Charles Kenyon on Tuesday 24 November 2015 .


Preliminary note. This chapter is based on the Sections chapter of the Legal Users Guide for Microsoft Word which was developed for Word 2002. It has been modified extensively by Charles Kenyon. The most extensive modification was the inclusion of hyperlinks, but the text has been modified as well as questions have arisen. These modifications have not undergone any kind of peer review, just comments from users.

Using sections in Word

Word uses section breaks to specify parts of a document that have different page orientation, columns, or headers and footers. Section breaks allow the user to specify where the different formatting will begin and end. You might use section breaks in the following circumstances:
bulletDifferent headers and footers. If the document you are working on needs to have different headers and footers on various pages, you would use section breaks to achieve this.
bulletDifferent page numbering schemes. If you are working in a document where the Table of Contents needs lower case Roman numerals, the contract needs Arabic numerals, and the Appendices need alphabetic numerals, you can achieve all of these with section breaks. See How to set up a document with front matter numbered separately by Suzanne Barnhill for a more extensive discussion of this.
bulletDifferent paper sizes. If you want a document to contain one portrait page and one landscape page, you'll need a section break between the pages.
bulletDifferent margins. If the first page of a letter needs a two-inch margin, and the following pages need a different margin, you'll need a section break in the document. CK Note - this is incorrect. You can use a different first-page header to mimic a different margin without inserting a section break. You may want different margins in different parts of your document for other purposes, though. In those cases, a Section break is what is needed. Note, though, if you just want to set some text off you want to change the paragraph indent, not the margin.
bulletColumns. You can use Word's newspaper column feature in the middle of a page, and place section breaks before and after the multiple columns. If you have text prepared and put it into a column format, word will automatically put in the section breaks.
bulletDocument protection. You can apply different protection levels to different sections in Word. This lets you allow editing in some sections and not others.

The Break dialog for Word 2000 and Word 97, accessible from the Insert menu

  Word 2007 - 2013 put the controls for breaks under the Page Layout tab under "Breaks" not on the Insert tab.

How to view a Section Break

You can see the section breaks in your document in many views, but normal view is the easiest to recognize. Once you insert the section break a double dotted line appears from one side of your document to the other.

Practice: Inserting a section break
  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Change your document view to Normal.
  3. Type the following: Title Page.
  4. Now choose Insert > Break.
  5. Choose Next Page Section Break.
  6. Type Table of Contents.
  7. Choose Insert > Break.
  8. Choose Next Page Section Break.
  9. Type Main document.

Diagram of section breaks in a document

View your document in Print Preview. You now have three sections. Switch between "Normal" and "Page Layout" (Word 97) and "Print Layout" (Word 2000-2003) views in this document to see how the section break appearance differs. In Word 2007 and later, the two views are called "Draft" and "Print Layout."

Change Page Formatting in a Specific Section

To better understand how sections work, think of your document as a book with different chapters, and each chapter starts with page number one.

In the last exercise we created a document with three separate sections. We are now able to apply unique formatting to each section of the document. The exercise that follows will help you change the margins and the page layout in the document using section breaks.

Practice: Change Page Formats in Sections
  1. Use the document you created in the last exercise.
  2. Press CTRL+END to move to the end of your document. You should be in Section 3.
  3. Choose File > Page Setup >click Paper Size.
  4. In the Orientation area, select Landscape.
  5. Be sure that Apply to: says This Section.

Warning Warning  If you do not apply the section break to "this section only" the whole document will be formatted in Landscape.

  1. Click OK. The last page should now be landscape and the rest of the document should still be portrait.
  2. Press CTRL+HOME to go to the top of the document.
  3. Choose File > Page Setup >click Layout
  4. In the Vertical alignment: section, select Center from the drop-down list.
  5. Be sure that Apply to: says This Section.
  6. Click OK. Your "TITLE PAGE" text should now be centered vertically.
  7. Try changing margins in a specific section.
Headers and Footers

A header or footer is text or other information such as graphics that is stored at the top or bottom of the page throughout your document. You can use the same header and footer throughout a document or change the header and footer for part of the document. For example, you can use your corporate logo in the first-page header, and then include the document's file name in the header for subsequent pages.

Note, headers and footers can be confusing. This is because they really are complex to allow users flexibility in setting up their documents. I hope the recap at the end of this chapter will help clarify things for you. See also Using Headers and Footers by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP - excellent and comprehensive web page.

To view Headers and Footers in Normal View, click View > Header and Footer. If you are in Page Layout View (Word 97) or Print Layout View (Word 2000-2003), simply double click the visible header or footer that appears as gray text.

Either way, the Header/Footer toolbar appears.

Header and Footer toolbar

Note Note  The Header and Footer toolbars are identical in Word 97 and Word 2000. It looks a little different in Word 2003 (below).

CK Note: If you Edit the Header or Footer the formatting starts with a blank area using the Header and Footer paragraph styles. The basic Header and Footer styles have tab settings for a Center tab at 3" and a Right tab at 6.". These are based on 1.25" margins. You can easily view these settings by showing the Ruler (View -> Ruler).

Header Footer Ruler Microsoft Word

If you want to change the appearance of all of the headers and footers in a document, modify the Header and Footer Styles. Your author tends to have headers and footers extend outside the page margins by half an inch and be in Italic using a different font. I use sanserif fonts for headers and footers and serif fonts for body text. This is intended to emphasize that the headers and footers are outside of the body, a textual frame for the page.

Practice: Use the Header/Footer Toolbar
  1. Choose View > Header and Footer.
  2. Click the Switch Between Header and Footer button . Your cursor should be in the footer.
  3. Click the button again to toggle back to the Header.
  4. Press the Align Right button on the Formatting toolbar to move to the right side of the Header.
  5. Type DRAFT Rough Outline.
  6. Click the Switch Between Header and Footer button to move to the footer.
  7. Place a Center Tab at 3.25 and a Right Tab at 6.5 on the ruler.
  8. Press TAB once to move to the center of the Footer.
  9. Click the Insert Page Number button.

Note Note  If you want to add the word "Page" or dashes on either side of the number, you can type the information before inserting the page number.

  1. Press TAB once to move to the right side of the Footer.
  2. Click the Date button to insert the date.

Warning Warning  Using the Date button will insert an updating date that will change to the current date each time you print.

CK Note: See Using Date Fields in Microsoft Word

  1. Click Close on the Header and Footer toolbar.
  2. Switch to Print Preview to view your newly added Header and Footer.
Note CK Note: AutoText in the Header/Footer Toolbar. 

There are a number of useful AutoText fields available using the Header/Footer Toolbar. It is important for you to remember that this is really an "AutoText List Field" and as such it is sensitive to the style of the paragraph. If somehow your style gets changed to anything other than the "header" or "footer" style many of your favorite AutoText entries will seem to have vanished! When you paste something into a header or footer, you may want to use Edit => Paste Special... => Unformatted Text so that you don't change the style in your header or footer by mistake.

The header and footer styles also have special tabs set that are especially useful in these contexts. (See the practice above.)

Word 2007 - 2013 put the controls for the Headers and Footers under the Insert tab.

Different First Page

There are times when you do not want the page number on the first page of your document. In WordPerfect, this was called Suppress. In Word, the feature is called Different First Page. This means you are still able to put information into the Header or Footer but it will not affect the rest of the Headers and Footers in the document.

Note, the Different First Page option applies separately for each section (unlike the Different Even and Odd option).

Note Note  This is frequently used when the firm logo or partner's names appear on the first page of a letter.
Word 2007 - 2013 put the controls for page numbering under the Insert tab. Different options are presented and you can also get a dialog box using the Format Page Numbers button.

Practice: Turn on Different First Page
  1. Open the document from the last exercise.
  2. Double-click the Header in your document. This will access the header and footer area and turn on the Header and Footer toolbar.
  3. Click the Page Setup button on the Header and Footer toolbar. The Page Setup dialog box opens to the Layout tab.

    Page setup dialog with the Layout tab selected

  4. Select Different first page.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Save and close this document.

Notice the Header area now says First Page Header.

Practice: Creating first page and continuation page Headers/Footers in a Template with only one page

When a template is created for a report or letterhead you will often want a different first-page header/footer and also want a different continuation page header/footer. One obvious way is to insert a temporary page break. However, you can actually create both in a single page.

  1. View > Headers and Footers.
  2. Your insertion point should be in the blank Header (Footer) with default tab settings
  3. Type some text, i.e. "This is the first header I typed" or "This is the continuation page header."
  4. Check the option for "different first page" on the toolbar and what you just typed disappears!
  5. The label changes from "Header" to "First Page Header"
  6. You can now type your header to appear on the first page.
  7. If later the document has more than one page, your continuation header
  8. REMINDER: If you have multiple sections in a document and a section's header/footer is set for link to previous, that will continue not only the main header but any different first page and even/odd page headers footers. This is true even if you do not see them. The different-first-page setting can be set for each section. The different even and odd setting is for the entire document.


Different Odd and Even

The Different Odd and Even option allows you to format your headers and footers differently. For example, you may want the page numbers on the odd pages to be aligned to the right and the page numbers on the even pages to be aligned to the left when you are printing double sided documents. You can access this option from the Page Setup button on the Header and Footer toolbar.

Note: the Different Odd and Even option applies to the entire document, not just to one section. This means that if in some sections you want the same header/footer you will have to produce it twice, once for odd pages, and once for even pages.

Header and Footer Placement and Space

There are two things the user needs to know about header and footer placement and space. The first is that either the header or footer can take up the entire page or be anywhere on the page. The second is that in the page layout dialog the user can set how much space to reserve for the header and footer from the edge of the page.


Items in the header or footer can be anywhere on the page. If they are graphical elements like a logo, WordArt, a Watermark or a TextBox they can be floating and marked to appear behind text. If they are set to be behind text, they will not move text in the body of the document. If they are in-line with text or set for wrapping, text in the body of the document (as well as in the header or footer) will give them space. This is one way of preparing letterhead templates reserving space for a sidebar on the first page of preprinted letterhead. See Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial.

Space for Headers and Footers

So that they do not run into text and so that text doesn't seem longer on pages without headers and footers, space can be reserved for the header and footer in the Page Layout dialog. First the general rule is that the running headers and footers will use whatever space they need. That means that if they extend into the body of the document, the text will normally flow around them. Generally you want a bit more space to distinguish the header and footer from the body of the document. This dialog can be reached by File > Page Layout > Layout (tab).

This setting, like most header and footer settings, is a section property. That is, you can have multiple sections in a document, but only one setting in a section.

Note that few printers can print to the edge of the page and that inkjet printers, in particular, seem to need blank space at the bottom of the page. See The bottoms of pages don't print.

Header and Footer Confusion?

The various header/footer settings can be confusing. This recap may help you sort things out.


Page Numbers in Word 97-2003

Page numbers are relatively simple, but the interface can make them seem complicated. Page numbers in Word are always fields, not manually typed numbers. We will start by looking at how to insert them through the interface's Insert Page Number functions and then look at how they can be inserted and formatted directly.

The Page Number button on the Header and Footer Toolbar inserts a field directly at the insertion point.

Note that all of the positions except "Current Position" put the page number in the active header or footer replacing that header/footer. This includes the numbers in the page margins.

Warning Sections Headers Footers

Warning about Page Number Insertion

Repeat: Inserting page numbers using the Insert Page Number command may insert a page number inside a "frame" which can make editing difficult.





Again, page numbers are fields. This is true no matter how you insert them. If you select a page number and press Shift+F9 to toggle field codes, you will see { PAGE },  a very simple field code. If you ever need to insert this manually you can do so through the Insert Field dialog. You can access this by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F9 or under the Insert tab > Quick Parts > Field.

A very simple way to insert a basic { PAGE } field is to press Alt+Shift+P.

Sections Page Number Field

The Insert Field dialog box is shown above. Using the choices shown will result in a lower case Roman numeral page number in the current formatting. The field would look like this:
{ PAGE  \* roman  \* MERGEFORMAT  } (The MERGEFORMAT is inserted by default. It comes from checking the preserve formatting box. I usually uncheck that box.)

You do not have to choose the page type when you insert the page number but it is easiest to do so.

Other useful fields are the NumPages and SectionPages fields which give the total number of pages in the document and Section respectively. An excellent article on formatting page numbers and manipulating them with calculation fields is Bill Coan's How to Control the Page Numbering in a Word Document.

See Page Numbering on Greg Maxey's site for information on how to have both a count of the Section pages and of the Document pages in the same spot.



Page X of Y

There are buttons for both the page number and number of pages (numpages) fields on the header/footer toolbar. Page X of Y ( 1 of 3, etc.) construction consists of two basic fields, the PAGE field and the NUMPAGES field. These can be inserted using the Insert > Field method or you can simply type "page" or "numpages" (without the quotation marks), select the word and press Ctrl+F9 to make it a field and the F9 to update it. Like Page fields, the NumPages field can be formatted. For fancy manipulation of these and the companion SectionPages field, refer to the articles by Bill Coan and Greg Maxey mentioned above.


Format Page Numbers

You will need to understand how to insert and format page numbers. For example, you may add a Table of Contents to your document and would like the page numbering to be in lowercase Roman numeral format. As long as your document is divided into sections, you can have differently formatted page numbers in each section of your document.

Same As Previous Same As Previous Button (active)

Word's default is to connect all the Headers in the document and all the footers in the document so they are all the same. It does this by using the Same as the Previous command. It is important to turn OFF the Same as Previous option FIRST before you make any other changes. This will prevent the previous section from being changed as well.

Tip Tip  It is usually better to start at the top of your document when working with Headers and Footers.

Warning Warning  Word's default is to always make the Header and Footer of a new section the Same as the Previous section. Turn off Same as Previous first, or else your changes can affect other sections.
Note CK Note: How many Sections do you need? If you are inserting a section break just to change the text in your header / footer, look into use of the StyleRef field with Word's built-in heading styles. This lets you change the content of your header / footer without making any change in the header / footer. The StyleRef field can reflect the content  of the latest heading or other style and change each time you format something new with that Style.

Note each section in Word can have up to three headers and three footers. The choices of different first page, different odd and even apply to both headers and footers for each section. The setting for link with previous is independent for each of these, that is, the first page header can be linked to previous while the first-page footer is not and neither setting has any effect on the settings for the odd or even page headers and footers.

A document can have both Portrait and Landscape pages with Headers/Footers in one document.

Changing orientation is accomplished through the Page Setup Dialog under the File Menu.

If you choose "Whole Document" to apply a change to, you change the orientation for the entire document. If you choose "This point forward" you will insert a section break at that point with the new orientation applying to the new section. Other choices can include "Selected text" if you have text selected, and "This section" if your document already has multiple sections.

Headers and Footers with Multiple Orientations in One Document

Generally headers and footers are designed to distribute information across the top or bottom of a page, giving the reader a lot of information in a small space. Some information is on the left side, some in the center, and some on the right side of the page.

In versions of Word before 2007, this is done using tab settings in the header and footer styles. This works well if all pages in a document are in the same orientation. It does not work so well when some pages are in portrait, and others in landscape orientation. The default header and footer styles have a center and right tab set for portrait orientation. Note that changing the orientation of a page from that for the rest of a document requires a different section.

Here are screenshots showing how this works.

Portrait Orientation

Landscape Orientation

So, if you are using headers and footers in your document and have some pages set up as landscape orientation and others set up for portrait orientation, you may need to use separate styles for the headers and footers in the different orientations or use some other method to distribute the components of your headers and footers. If you use separate styles, you will need to not have your headers and footers linked to previous sections (at least in the areas where there are orientation changes).

Versions of Word beginning with Word 2007 have a tool that lets you align according to margins and indents rather than tab settings called the Alignment Tab. That makes changing orientations with headers and footers easier.

Note CK Note: Page Numbers. There are two places you can put page numbers: in the header/footer, or in the document.  If you put them in the document inside a frame using the Insert > Page Number command, you can never get proper control of them.  This is the greatest trap there is for inexperienced page-numberers.  The page number MUST be inserted into the header or footer!  If your document already has page numbers, click on one.  If it shows the square bounding box of a floating frame, it’s in a frame: delete it! John McGhie, How to Create A Template.

I have gone so far as to remove the Page Numbers... command from my Insert Menu in Word 97-2003!   An alternative simple way to insert a page number is Alt+Shift+P which will insert a page number field without a frame.

See How to Control Page Numbering in a Word Document by Bill Coan. This is an excellent article on formatting page numbers and manipulating them with calculation fields.

For more information on using chapter numbering, see http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/Numbering/ChapterNumber.htm.

For more information on numbering appendixes, see http://www.ShaunaKelly.com/word/numbering/NumberingAppendixes.html.


Practice: Format Page Numbers

Create a new blank document.

Save As (your initials) Sections.

  1. Type

    Confidential Employment Agreement
    ZZZ Company
    January 1, 2000

  1. Choose Insert > Break. From the Section Breaks area, select Next Page to insert a Next Page section break.
  2. Type Table of Contents and press ENTER.
  3. Insert a Next Page section break.
  4. From the Style drop-down list on the Formatting toolbar, choose Body Text.
  5. Type =rand(30) and press ENTER.
  6. Insert a Next Page section break.
  7. Type Appendix: Salary Increases and press ENTER.
  8. Choose File > Page Setup > Paper Size.
  9. Under Orientation, select Landscape.
  10. Be sure that Apply to: says This section.
  11. Save the document.
  12. Press CTRL+HOME to get the top of the document.
  13. Choose View > Header and Footer.
  14. Click the Switch Between Header and Footer button. Your cursor should be in the footer of the first page. Notice that it says: Footer Section 1. We do not want a page number on the first page so leave it blank.
  15. Click the Show Next button to jump to the next footer. It should read: Footer Section Notice on the right that it says Same As Previous.
  16. Click the Same As Previous button. This disconnects Section 2 footer from Section 1 footer.
  17. Choose the Center button on the Formatting toolbar to move your cursor to the middle of the footer.
  18. Click the Format Page Number button. The Page Number Format dialog box opens.

    Page Number Format dialog

  19. From the Number format drop-down list, choose lowercase Roman Numerals.
  20. Under Page Numbering, select Start at to have the page numbers start counting from this section.
  21. Click OK to return to the footer.
  22. Click the Insert Page Number button on the Header/Footer toolbar.
  23. Click Show Next to move the cursor to Footer-Section 3.
  24. Turn off Same As Previous using the button on the Header/Footer toolbar.
  25. Click Page Number Format.
  26. Change the number format to Arabic numerals, and choose Start At and change the Start At to 1. Click OK.
  27. Click Show Next to move the cursor to Footer-Section 4.
  28. Turn off Same As Previous.
  29. Change the number format to capital letters.
  30. Click Close on the Header/Footer toolbar.
  31. Switch to Print Preview and make sure your page numbers are correct.

How to Put a Portrait Page Number on a Landscape Page by Bill Coan, MVP, Dave Rado, MVP, and Suzanne Barnhill, MVP

Word 2010 Tutorial on Headers and Footers

Headers and Footers in Word 2003 - From Basic to Elaborate - a Tutorial


Columns (CK Section)

Columns are a creature of Sections in Word, like headers and footers. The command to set them up is found under the Format menu. This opens a dialog box.

Columns Dialog Box - Microsoft Word Columns - Sections

The dialog box has five presets and also lets you set your column options manually. The "Apply to:" choice of "This point forward" allows you to insert a continuous section break where you are and make the rest of the current section have the column settings you want. The default is "This section."  The Start new column checkbox is one way to insert a column break before the bottom of the page. If you select the Left or Right column preset it unchecks the Equal column width setting. Line between inserts a vertical line between columns.

You can set the number of columns to a larger number if you want. Note though that more than 3 columns is not practical on a portrait layout letter-size page. Unchecking the Equal column width setting lets you manually change your column width. The spacing between columns is preset at 0.5." Adjusting this is a way to get all of your text on one page or fill out a page.

Note that a column break, like a manual page break, will be contained within a Word paragraph, so text immediately following the break will be in the same paragraph as that which precedes the break. If you change the paragraph formatting, it will change for the entire Word paragraph.

Practice: Formatting Columns
  1. Open the document with three sections from the Header/Footer Exercises.
  2. Press Ctrl+End to go to the end of the document.
  3. Press the ENTER after the Heading "Main Document"
  4. Type =rand(30, 4) and press ENTER.
  5. Go back to the point just under the heading.
  6. Under the Format menu, select Columns click on the preset for two columns.
  7. Click OK
  8. Notice that if you were in Normal view you are now in Print Layout view.
  9. Notice that your heading is inside the columns.
  10. Press Ctrl+Z to undo the column formatting.
  11. Reopen the Columns dialog box from the Format menu.
  12. Select the two column preset and under "Apply to" select "This Point Forward."
  13. Click OK.
  14. Notice that your Heading is now outside the Column formatting. You have just created a new (continuous) section break.
  15. Reopen the Columns dialog box from the Format Menu.
  16. Try clicking the preset to have three columns instead of two.
  17. Click OK.
  18. Note that it applies to the current section.
  19. Click in the middle of the page in the middle of a paragraph.
  20. Reopen the Columns dialog box from the Format Menu.
  21. Select the two column preset and under "Apply to" select "This Point Forward."
  22. Click OK.
  23. Note that you now have a three column section followed by a two column section.
  24. Note that the section break was inserted in the middle of your paragraph, even in the middle of a sentence!

The Column set up in Word is the equivalent to "Snaking columns" in Word Perfect. To get parallel columns in Word you would use Tables.

Printing a Range of Pages With Multiple Sections - CK note

Word tracks pages for printing purposes by the page numbers assigned by Word, itself. To print pages 3-5 you would enter 3-5. (These page numbers may or may not be what is displayed.) Since page numbering can restart with each section, it is easy to have multiple pages numbered 1 or 2, or even 10 or 30! To tell Word which pages you want to print, you need to designate not only the page number, but the section number. You have to give both page and section for all numbers in a range.

bulletTo print page 1 of section 3, you would enter p1s3
bulletTo print pages 1-1 and 2-2, you would enter p1s1,p2s2
bulletTo print pages 1-3 in the first section, you would enter p1s1-p3s1
bulletTo print all of section 4, you would enter s4
bulletTo print a rage of pages across sections, you would enter p5s2-p3s5

See this Help article for more.

Watermarks in Word 2003 (CK Note)Insert Watermark tooltip in Word 2013

A Watermark is an element that appears behind text and is usually faint. It is often text but may be an image. It is a confusing feature because a Watermark in Word is part of a header. It is placed in the Header of the first section.

They are discussed in this chapter because they are inserted as a part of a header and problems with Watermarks equate to problems with headers.


The screenshot above shows the route you need to take from the Format menu to get to the Printed Watermark choice. Format > Background > Printed Watermark. When you do this, you get the dialog box shown below.

Note that you can type text or choose a picture. You can also use the dialog box to remove a Watermark inserted by Word. If text, you can color it, the default is Gray semi-transparent. You can have the text shown as horizontal or semitransparent. I typed in "Attorney Work Product" and left the default settings for diagonal gray transparent text. The result is shown below.

You can save a Printed Watermark as AutoText. The templates available should include any global templates that are currently loaded as well as the attached document template. AutoText cannot be saved in a document, only in a template. Once saved, it can be used as can any other AutoText. This is not especially convenient and was improved upon in Word 2007. To save a selected graphic as AutoText you can press the Alt+F3 keyboard shortcut.


An image or picture can also be used as a Printed Watermark. Images can include photos, clip art, Word Art or other drawings.

Troubleshooting Watermarks

Problems that can arise and some work-arounds:

  1. If you are having a problem with watermarks you need to understand how headers work because watermarks are in the header. Headers are section properties, so watermarks are part of sections as well.
  2. If the headers in different sections are not linked at the time a Watermark is inserted, the Watermark will be inserted into only the first section and sections with headers linked to that section. You will need to go into the first section header (view it) and select the Watermark image. This will not seem like it is in the Header because of its placement, but it is! Copy that to the Clipboard and paste it in unlinked Headers.
    You can avoid this problem if you insert the Watermark before you unlink the headers. Note, though, that once the headers are unlinked you cannot change the Watermark by simply using the Watermark button; you would still have to edit each unlinked header separately.
  3. You cannot have more than one Watermark, designated as such by Word in a document. You can, though have multiple images that look and act like Watermarks - even in the same headers - so long as they are not placed there by the Watermark button in Word.
  4. If you want a Watermark on only one page, you must place it behind the text in the body of the document - not in a header or footer if the header or footer covers more than one page.
  5. You check "remove Watermark" and nothing happens or the Watermark continues to show on some pages. This is because some of the Watermarks you are seeing were inserted as graphics and not directly by using the Insert Watermark button. (See 2-4 above)
  6. You want vertical text - not Horizontal or Diagonal - or some other variation. Use WordArt to create what you want and then either insert it directly or save the WordArt as a picture and then insert it using the Watermark function as a picture. (If you do the latter, you will not be able to edit it in Word.)
Inserting a Watermark on only the first page of a multi-page document (or on every page except the first page)
  1. Remember, watermarks are images that are in headers/footers. If you use the different first page setting for your header before you insert the watermark, it will appear only in the header used for the page on which you insert the watermark.
  2. That is, if you use the Insert Watermark command when you are on the first page, that watermark will appear only on the first page of that multi-page document. Again, the different first page setting must be in effect at that time.
  3. If after you insert the watermark, you switch on the different first page setting, the watermark will disappear from your first page! It will appear on all following pages in that section.
  4. If you have multiple sections in the document, be aware of the link to previous setting for each header in each section (remember, every section has settings for three different headers, whether they are displayed or not).
Watermark Troubleshooting

Problem: Watermark does not appear on all pages.

Watermarks are a creature of headers. If you have multiple headers previous ones may be blocking your watermark.

  1. Go into the header on the page where the watermark appears.
  2. Click on it to select it.
  3. Copy it.
  4. Go to the header on a page missing the watermark.
  5. Paste and position it.
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 as needed.

Problem: I want a Watermark on only one page

Remember, Watermarks are a creature of headers.

If you want your Watermark to appear only on one page there are several ways you can do this. First, you could make a one-page Section with the Watermark and make sure that headers in other sections are not linked to that one.

Probably simpler, is to cut the watermark (it is a graphic of some sort, perhaps WordArt) from the header and then paste it behind the text on the page where your want it instead of in the header.

Page Margins (CK Note)

Page Margins are section properties. They are set in the Page Layout dialog. To change the indents of one or more paragraphs, the paragraph formatting for left and right indents should be set, not the page margins.


One feature allowed for margins is mirror margins. This is intended to work with different even-and-odd headers/footers. It allows for a binding area in documents printed duplex. However, it does not work in Landscape sections if what is desired is to have the binding edge along the long side of the paper. That would require mirroring of top and bottom margins. A workaround is described in Mirrored Margins in Landscape Pages in Microsoft Word.

More on margins to follow.

Trouble Shooting Sections, Headers and Footers, Page Numbering

Why is the spacing off in the footer of a landscape page?

  1. Check first to see if there are section breaks setting off the landscape page.
  2. Even though the footer will look the "same as previous," that option must be turned off.
  3. After turning it off, move the center tab to 5.5 inches and the right tab to 10 inches.
  4. Continue to the following section and, again, turn off "same as previous."

The page number was formatted to show A, B, C. It's not appearing in the footer.

Although the number was formatted correctly, it was not inserted. First format the number to get what is needed; then insert the number in the footer.

I can't see the headers and footers.

If you are in Normal View, it is necessary to click View > Header and Footer. If you switch to Page Layout View (Word 97) or Print Layout View (Word 2000) you will see them as unavailable. Double-click in the header or footer and the Header/Footer toolbar will be accessible.

The section break doesn't allow me to have both portrait and landscape text on the same page.

Unfortunately, Word will not allow this by the use of a section break. To achieve the desired effect, you must insert a text box.

CK Note: Everything that follows has been added by me and does not appear in the original of this chapter.

I have the codes for Page 1 of 3 (x of y) in my header/footer. It is different on the screen from when it prints out. Or, I get Page 1 of 1, Page 2 of 2, Page 3 of 3, etc.

Unfortunately this feature doesn't work very well. There are a number of reasons for this, including background printing and the timing of field updates. The best work-around that I have heard of is to use a Cross-Reference for the "Y" of Page X of Y. Put a bookmark on the last page of your document - at the very end - and use Insert | Cross-Reference to insert the page number on which that bookmark may be found. Other things to do include:

  1. Turn off background printing.
  2. Turn off display of hidden text if you have any in your document.
  3. View the document in Print Preview (Page Preview) mode including the last page of the document to force an update of the fields. 

For more on this see: http://www.addbalance.com/word/pagexofy.htm. For more on bookmarks and cross-references see Complex Legal Documents.

I set my document for a "Different First Page" but that header/footer is showing up on pages in the middle of my document.

Or, I have "Different First Page" set so I don't have a header/footer on the first page but all of my pages or a lot of my pages besides the first page have no header/footer.

Do you have section breaks? Each section has its own first page. The settings for headers/footers are separate for each section but are often linked so that the header/footer in the first section is continued throughout the document.

Actually, each section can have up to three different headers (and three different footers), which is the case if you have selected "Different odd and even" and "Different first page" (also on the Header & Footer Tools Design tab). When you have multiple headers (footers), each type must be separately unlinked from its "neighbor" in the preceding section. This gets especially complex if you have multiple sections on a single page. (Thanks to Stefan Blom, MVP for putting this concept so well.)

My document has numerous sections. How did they get there?

Word can insert without notice sections whenever you:

bulletChange Margins (not Indents, Margins)
bulletChange the Page Numbering
bulletChange Page Orientation
bulletChange Column Arrangment

Another way to end up with a lot of sections is by working with a converted document (i.e. Word Perfect, pdf, OpenOffice, Scanned Text) or text copied from a converted document or from a Web page. The conversion software aims to make a document in Word that looks like the original. However, there is no conversion software that handles section formatting at all well, as far as I know as of January 1, 2014. This includes documents that started as Word documents, were converted to pdf, and then converted back. The conversion software can make every change or even apparent change in paragraph indents as a margin change. You can end up with a three-page document with fifty sections!

If you want to edit such text, you are often far ahead by simply copying as plain text and doing your formatting using Styles to duplicate the original formatting.

Missing Sections - Ghost headers and footers - Page Number mysteriously restarts

"Alright, so I have this problem and it's been driving me absolutely INSANE for the past couple hours. I want to add page numbers but for some reason, it re-starts from 1 in the middle of the document."

"I get strange headers/footers popping up in the middle of my document."

"I have a different header/footer in the middle of my document." (Duplicates the First-Page header/footer from earlier in the document, but this is not the first page!)

These complaints all have to do with there being a section break in your document, usually just before the problem. You can improve your ability to deal with these by displaying non-printing formatting characters in your document. However, sometimes a section break will be concealed at the end of a line in Print View.

It also can be helpful to try editing in Draft View.

Every Section has its own first page. Every Section has three headers/footers coded in even if you do not see any of them: First Page, Odd Page, Even Page. These can be continued in a subsequent Section. The setting for "Different First Page" is a Section setting. The setting for "Different Even and Odd" is a document setting.

A single page can have three Sections (or more) with the headers/footers set in the middle Section not displaying at all but perhaps showing up in a linked Section that follows. Sometimes it helps to temporarily insert a couple of page breaks in the middle of a section to display the headers/footers for that section.

See Header/Footer settings recap.

I know I can have a different header/footer on the first page of my document / section. Can I have a different one on the last page?

Yes, but it takes some work with fields. This is beyond the scope of this article but involves using an IF field to test if the page is the last page of the document or section and give a different result depending on the answer. See the Fields article to see an example.

I made a change in my Section 2 Header / Footer and the Section 1 Header / Footer changed too.

You need to unlink the header / footer. First, though, Copy your new contents to the Clipboard. Then press Ctrl+Z until it is back to what it looked like before you made the changes. Then unlink the header / footer and Paste your changes back. Remember, each header/footer's linked state is independent of all others.

I added a next-page section break to my document. It should have been a continuous section break instead.

The way to handle this is through the Page Layout Dialog. The simplest way to access this is by double-clicking on the Ruler. It can also be accessed through the Page Layout tab's dialog box dropdown. On the Layout tab is a dropdown that lets you change the type of the current section.

sections type selection dialog microsoft word header footer


How to have Word tell you which section you are in.

Word 2003 Status Bar - Sections Help

The status bar will tell you which section you are in. Items that appear in the status bar

If you don't see a Status Bar, the display is controlled in Tools > Options > View.

Word 2003 Status Bar Tutorial

Recap of Header/Footer settings
bulletThis is confusing. This is because it really is complex to allow users the flexibility they need.  If you don't need that complexity, probably you will never see it.
bulletYou probably want to turn on display of non-printing formatting marks or work in normal or draft view so you can see Section breaks. Show non-printing characters.
bulletSection breaks do not always start a new page. Section breaks may be inserted by Word without notice when you change columns, margins, page numbering, or page orientation within a document.
bulletThere are four kinds of Section breaks; the most common are continuous and new page. The other two start a new Section on either an even-numbered or an odd-numbered page. The blank page that can be generated by such a section break will not have headers or footers; it will be a blank page. If you need headers/footers on these pages, Microsoft recommends insertion of a manual page break immediately before the section break to force a blank page with headers/footers.
bulletManual page breaks do not change header/footer settings. New-page Section breaks can, as can continuous (no new page) Section breaks. (All section breaks carry header/footer settings.)
bulletEvery section will have three different headers and three different footers even if you never see them. Because of this, and because there can be multiple sections on a single page, it may be easiest to temporarily expand each section to at least three pages (to see the First-Page, Even-Page, and Odd-Page headers and footers. This way you can see what is in each header/footer and what the settings are. You can temporarily expand the number of pages using manual page breaks (Ctrl+Enter)
bulletSection formatting is contained in the section break that follows the section. If you delete all section breaks you can find in a document your formatting will be contained in the last paragraph mark in the document, which is the last section break.
bulletIf there is a section break on a page, changes to the header/footer that follow that section break may not have any effect on the header for the page that contains the section break. (Those settings or changes are stored in the next section break, the one governing that section.)
bulletThe Link-to-previous setting is specific to the type of header/footer: Primary header, First-Page header, and Even-page header. Link to previous is the default setting.
bulletLink to previous is specific to headers and footers (can be different). It is also specific to each type of header/footer. That is, the first-page header can be linked to previous but not the first-page footer and not the even-page header. The link-to-previous setting can be set for each header/footer in every section after the first. This setting can be different in each type of header / footer in each section.
bulletSince each section has three different headers and three different footers and the link to previous setting is specific to the type of header or footer, each section can have up to six different link-to-previous settings. This is true even if the header/footer to which it applies is not visible. This is true even if the section involved is a continuous section in the middle of a page and has no headers or footers displayed.
bulletThe different-first-page setting covers both headers and footers and is a Section (not document) setting.
bulletDifferent odd and even covers both headers and footers and is a document (not Section) setting.
bulletEach section can have different settings for distance from the edge of the paper that apply to that section's headers and footers.
bulletSee also Using Headers and Footers by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP - excellent and comprehensive web page

Troubleshooting Watermarks

See also Troubleshooting Sections and Working with Sections


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