How to insert page numbers in Word

Microsoft Office, which is included in the Microsoft 365 package, makes it easy to number pages in Word documents.

Numbered pages are vital for a professional-looking document. Whether your writing is going to be published or is passed on for internal review, page numbers will make it easier for readers to read and navigate your document. Newer versions of Microsoft Word have made page numbering even more user-friendly by adding a shortcut to the navigation bar. However, there are still some quirks involved in inserting page numbers in Word. In this article, we’ll introduce the different options to number pages in Word and explain how to start page numbering later in a document.

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Numbering pages in Word: a step-by-step tutorial

The easiest way to insert page numbers in Word is as follows:

  1. Click on the “Insert” tab located in the navigation pane in MS Word.
  2. Click on the “Header and Footer” section and select menu option “Page Number”.
  3. A dialog should open up to give a few different page numbering options.
  4. For straightforward page numbering, select “Bottom of Page”.
  5. Or you can manipulate the position of a page number by choosing from “Plain Number 1” (page number on the left), “Plain Number 2” (page number in the middle) or “Plain Number 3” (page number on the right).

The document’s pages will now be numbered starting on the first page with page number 1. You can leave the footer area of a document by double-clicking anywhere on the text in the main body.

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Start page numbering after page 1

Page numbering doesn’t need to start on the first page of a document. If, for example, your document contains a title page, you may not want to add a page number until the second page. It’s relatively straightforward to start page numbering after page 1 on Word:

  1. Click on the “Insert” tab located in the navigation bar.
  2. Select “Header and Footer” and click on menu option “Page Number”.
  3. From the options menu, choose your preferred formatting ( “Plain Number 1” (page number on the left), “Plain Number 2” (page number in the middle) or “Plain Number 3” (page number on the right)).
  4. Once you’ve inserted the page number, the navigation pane at the top automatically changes.
  5. Now, select the box titled “Different First Page”.
  6. Consecutive page numbering will now begin on page 2.

Important: When using this method to insert page numbers in Word, the numbering will start on the second page with page number 2.

However, there is a simple trick to modify the page number shown in a footer. Follow the steps described above and then proceed as follows:

  1. Navigate out of the header and footer area by clicking anywhere on the text in the main body. Then select “Page Number” from the navigation pane.
  2. Now, select “Format Page Numbers”.
  3. A “Page Number Format” pop-up will open.
  4. Select “Start at” and enter a “0”.
  5. Confirm by clicking “OK”.

The second page will now display page number 1. Subsequent pages will be numbered consecutively.

A trick in Word: begin page numbering on the third page

When you need to insert page numbers starting on the third page of a document, things get a little more complicated. With the following trick, you can either number pages in relation to where they are in a document (i.e. the third page is page 3) or you can number them starting with page 1 (i.e. the third page is page 1). This is relevant in documents where both a title page and a table of contents have been added. To do so, you need to divide the document into sections: section 1 includes the first two pages and section 2 the pages with the page numbers in the footer. Here’s how to insert page breaks in Word:

  1. Start with a blank document.
  2. Select the “Layout” tab in the navigation bar.
  3. Select “Breaks”.
  4. Then click on “Page” to insert a page break which will cause Word to automatically jump to the second page.

When numbering your pages, you can now start the process from the page after the break, i.e. the third page in this case.

  1. Select the “Layout” tab.
  2. Click on the menu option “Breaks”.
  3. This time, select “Next Page”.

Now, both a page break and a section break have been performed. As a result, the document now has three pages and two sections. In order to insert different page numbers in Word, you need to remove the footer link.

  1. Go to page 3 of the document and double click in the footer area.
  2. The navigation pane will automatically open header and footer tools.
  3. Select “Link to Previous”.

Then proceed as previously described and number pages on the third page beginning with page number 3.


If you frequently work with Word, consider using templates in Word.

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