How to Add Headers and Footers to Your Documents

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Oftentimes it is necessary to put vital information about your document either at the top of the page, at the bottom of the page, or a combination of both. While you can easily enter things such as document title, page numbers, creation date, author, etc. at the top or bottom of your document body, if you place them in a header or footer outside of the document body, you can rest assured that this information will always retain the correct placement, no matter how much you edit the content of your document.

Microsoft Word includes a considerable amount of advanced options for working with headers and footers; you can insert AutoText entries such as filename and path, dates, and page numbers that will automatically update as your document changes.

Additionally, you can specify that the first page and/or odd pages have different headers and/or footers; once you understand how they work and how to manipulate the options by taking advantage of section breaks, you can even give every single page a different header and footer! 

Keep reading if you're using Word 2003. Or, learn how to insert headers and footers in Microsoft Word 2007. Before we get into advanced options for headers and footers, however, we will learn the basics: How to create and edit headers and footers for your Word documents.

  1. From the View menu, select Header and Footer.

  2. An outline labeled Header will appear at the top of your document, along with the Header and Footer toolbar. This outline encompasses the header area.

  3. You can immediately begin typing the information you would like to include in the header. To switch to the footer, click Switch Between Header and Footer.

  4. When you’re finished creating your header and/or footer, simply click Close to close the header and footer and return to your document. You will see your header and/or footer in a light gray font at the top and bottom of the page, respectively when you are in Print Layout view; in any of the other document views, your headers and footers will not be visible.

Notes on Headers and Footers

You can work with headers and footers much the same way you work with text in the body of your document: Toolbar buttons are still available for use, so you can change the font, add different formats to it, and specify paragraph options. You can also copy information from the body of your document and paste it into the headers and footers or vice versa.

While they will appear on the page in Print Layout view, you will not be able to edit your headers or footers as you would the rest of your document. You must first open them for editing from the View menu; double-clicking on the text within the header/footer will also open them for editing. You can return to the body of your document either by selecting Close from the toolbar or by clicking within the body of the document.