Creating Headers & Footers in Microsoft Word

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Whether for a one-page document's professional look or a 300-page document's ease of review, headers and footers can be very helpful in Microsoft Word documents. In this lesson, we'll review why as well as how to insert them.

Headers and Footers in Microsoft Word

The default Microsoft Word document has margins of one inch. A margin is the distance between the edge of the paper and where printable text or graphics start or stop. Typically, you can't go outside these margins, although you can change them.

However, Microsoft recognizes that margin space is valuable space - especially at the top and bottom of a page. So, beginning in very early versions of Microsoft Word, they added the header and footer function for ease of use and to comply with a number of different publishing styles that require titles, page numbers, or other information at the top or bottom of a page.

Headers are text you can insert at the top of a Word document, while footers are text you can insert at the bottom of a Word document. The more recent versions of Word have a number of predesigned page-number inserts, title inserts, etc. In this lesson, we'll briefly describe the basics of inserting headers and footers and how you can edit them to meet your needs.

How to Use Headers and Footers

The 'Header' and 'Footer' options are on the 'Insert' ribbon in Word 2016. If you click 'Insert' across the top of the toolbar, a little right beyond half-way across the ribbon is 'Header' with a little arrow next to it and 'Footer' with a little arrow next to it. This is the quickest way to insert headers and footers. Once they are inserted, you'll have more options to edit their format, location, linking to other sections, etc.

If you click on either the header or footer option, you'll see about four examples of what headers and footers are available to you, and then you'll see about three other options, depending on if you currently have headers or footers in your document. The first option is 'More headers from' If you select this option, you'll be taken to a webpage where you can see other predesigned headers or footers to download and install, or, if they are already downloaded, you'll see more options. Whether you choose a predetermined style or download one from, once you select a header or footer style, you are brought to the Header & Footer Tools design tab.

The next option down is 'Edit header.' When you click on this, Word 2016 gives you the header (or footer) toolbar at the top of the page. Thirdly, you'll see 'Remove header,' which is likely obvious - select that to remove any header or footer you have on the page or document. The final option, and usually grayed out until you actually have a header or footer, is 'Save selection for header gallery.' This simply means that whatever header or footer you currently have set in a format you like will be saved so that the next time you look for a header or footer, you can select it as an option.

Before continuing on to discuss editing headers and footers, let's discuss one more way that you can insert either one. If you move your mouse to the area on the page where a header or footer would go (either the very top or bottom margin), and double-click, you'll activate the Header & Footer Tools menu. From there you can choose either predesigned text or make your own. To exit out of the header or footer, you need to only double-click anywhere in the body of the document (or click on the 'Close Header and Footer' button on the upper right-hand side of the Header & Footer Tools menu).

Edits for Headers and Footers

Headers and footers can contain a lot of different information, depending on the information you want the reader or user to know. While they are commonly used to display dates and page numbers, you can also type your own text, or insert file names, file paths, author, last-edited date, and many other document properties. Most of the editing tools for normal text, such as bold, underline, italics, color changes, and positioning, are also available for headers and footers.

When inserting and editing headers and footers, you need to keep a couple of important things in mind. First, they do print with the document. And second, it's important to remember that headers and footers should provide reference information but not distract from primary document. Anything too flashy or unique may distract the reader from the document, which is not something you want to do.

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