How to Add Advanced Headers and Footers in Word

Microsoft Word provides advanced header and footer options for lengthy or complicated documents. Creating these is easy if you understand the concept of sections.

The following information and screenshots pertain to Microsoft Word for Mac 2019 (version 16.32) but the steps are similar in older versions (2018, 2016, and 2013) as well as in Word online.

Sections in Microsoft Word

Sections are exactly what they sound like: Parts of a document. Use sections to organize your content into chapters, topics, or whatever other division helps your reader understand and use the document. Each section in a Word document can have its own formatting, page layouts, columns, headers, and footers. 

Sections are created using section breaks. To use headers and footers, you insert a section break at the beginning of each section for which you want to apply a unique header or footer. The formatting you set up extends to each page of the section until another section break is encountered.

To set up a section break:

  1. Navigate to the spot where you want to create the break and select Insert > Break from the top menu. Alternatively, click Layout > Breaks.

    Inserting a break in Word
  2. Select the type of break you want.

    • Section Break (Next Page): Section starts on a new page.
    • Section Break (Continuous): Section continues from this spot.
    • Section Break (Odd Page): Starts a new section on the next odd-numbered page.
    • Section Break (Even Page): Starts a new section on the next even-numbered page.
  3. Section breaks aren't visible by default. If you'd like to see them, select Home in the ribbon and click the section symbol.

    Showing section breaks in Word

Now that you've divided your document into sections, you can apply headers and footers on a per-section basis.

You can use headers and footers without inserting section breaks if you'd like to use the same headers and footers throughout the document.

Adding Headers and Footers

The easiest way to insert a header or footer is to place your pointer in the top or bottom margin of a section and double-click to open the Header and Footer workspace. Anything you add to this workspace appears on every page of the section. To return to the body of your document, simply double-click anywhere in it.

Inserting header from ribbon

You can format your header/footer text just as you do in any document and even insert an image, such as a logo.

Adding a Heading or Footer From the Word Ribbon

You can also use the Microsoft Word ribbon to add a header or footer. The benefit of this method is that the options are preformatted. Microsoft Word provides headers and footers with colored dividing lines, document title placeholders, date placeholders, page number placeholders, and other elements. Using one of these preformatted styles can save you time and add a touch of professionalism to your documents. Here's how:

  1. Click the Insert tab.

    Adding a header or footer from Word ribbon
  2. Click the drop-down arrow on the Header or Footer button in the Header and Footer section.

  3. Select the desired option.

    Blank gives you a blank header or footer, into which you can insert whatever text or graphics you'd like.

  4. The Header & Footer ribbon opens.

    Header & Footer ribbon in Word
  5. Click Close Header & Footer to return to the main body of your document.

To unlink headers and footers from previous sections:

  1. Click anywhere in the header or footer.

  2. Click Link To Previous in the Header and Footer tools to turn off the link.

    Link to Previous in Word's Header & Footer ribbon
  3. Type a new header or footer for this section. Now unlinked, it will function independently of the previous ones.

Including Page Numbers, Dates, Times, or Other Info

Word offers many options for including information automatically. For example, to insert page numbers:

  1. Click Insert > Page Number drop-down menu in the Header & Footer section.

    Insert page number in Word header
  2. Click Format Page Numbers and select the appropriate settings. For example, select the Include Chapter Number checkbox if you formatted your document with Styles. To change the starting number, click the up or down arrow.

    Click OK.

  3. To add the date and/or time, select Date & Time from the Header & Footer ribbon. Choose a date format in the dialog box that appears and click Update automatically so the current date and time always display in the document.

    Including the date and time in Word header

Footnotes not the same as footers. See How to Insert Footnotes in Word 2010 for more information on footnotes.