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Long Word documents often have different sections that need entirely different footers, headers or both. Making these changes can be a little tricky. Here is a walk-through for building out different sections and getting the footers to change properly.

Let's say we have a document with a cover page, a preamble (table of contents, publishing information, etc.), a body, and an appendix. The cover page shouldn't have a header or footer (we have nother post on starting page numbers on page 2. The preamble should have roman numerals for page numbers (we have another post on Roman Numeral page numbers). The body should have regular page numbers, and the appendix needs letters (a, b, c, etc.). For extra credit every page except for the cover page should have a header that says the author's name.

How do we get the page numbering in Word to change? How do we keep the header the same throughout the document? Section Breaks.

Word Section Breaks

We'll use Word section breaks to accomplish all of these tasks. A section break tells Word that the next piece of content is unique and different from what preceded it.

You can insert a section break by clicking on the Page Layout tab then choosing Breaks and either Next Page or Continuous. For this exercise, we'll always choose Next Page.

Microsoft Word Paragraph Symbol

If you want to see your section breaks, click on the paragraph symbol in the Home tab. The section break look like the image below (and is also covered in this post on Extra Symbols in Microsoft Word). Toggle it off by clicking on the paragraph symbol again.

Microsoft Word Section Break

Using Section breaks to break up a Word Document

Word section break

Our first step will be to add section breaks between the cover page, preamble, body, and appendix. We'll do this before adding any page numbers or footers.

Put your cursor after the last content on the cover page, and click on Page Layout – Breaks – Next Page. This will insert a page into your document that is a different section from the cover page. Use your delete key (not your backspace key) to bring the first preamble page's content back into place. The backspace key will delee your newly created section break.

Insert section breaks in this manner between the preamble and body and the body and appendix too. Double check your work by clicking on the paragraph symbol under the Home tab. You should have 4 sections, one for the cover page, preamble, body, and appendix sections. The section breaks should be the last element on the page.

Adding page numbering in Word with section breaks

We'll start by adding page numbering to the footer of the second page (meaning, the first page of the preamble).

Word page numbering

With your cursor anywhere on the document, click Page Number, under the Insert tab, and choose a location on the bottom (footer). Your page numbers will appear, but they will be standard Arabic and will not account for the different section breaks.

The next step will be to remove the page numbers from the cover page, change the page number from Arabic to Roman numerals, and start the page numbering with "i" on the second page.

Word Page Numbering Format Screen

To change the page numbers to Roman numerals scroll up to the second page and right click on the second page number "2". Then, choose Format Page Numbers. In the resulting pop up screen, choose Roman numerals from the Number Format drop down.

While we're in the format page numbers screen, select the radial button for Start at and type in "i". Then click Ok. The first page of the preamble is now labeled "i"

Removing page numbering in Word from the Cover page

Word Link to Previous

Next let's remove the page numbers from the cover page. To do this, we'll need to disassociate the footer on the second page from that of the first page. While your cursor is in the second page footer, unselect Link to Previous in the Navigation group of the Header & Footer Tools Design tab. You'll notice that the blue box just above the footer that said Same as Previous has disappeared.

Scroll up until you see the page number on the cover page. Highlight and delete it with your backspace key.

Switching back to Arabic page numbering

If you scroll down to the first page of the body section, you'll notice that it is numbered with an Arabic page number and the page number is not 1. This happens because the section break tells Word to switch the format, but the page numbering bridges over the section break.

For our purposes, the Arabic numbers are fine, but we need it to start with page 1, right? So, just like before, right click on the number and choose Format Page Numbers. Then choose the radial button Start at and type in 1. Click Ok.

Changing page numbers to letters

The next step will be to label the appendix with letters. We'll use nearly the same technique to do this.

Scroll down to the footer of the first page of the appendix and right click on the page number. Choose Format Page Number again. Select the a, b, c, format, then Start at, and type in "a". Click ok.

Extra Credit- The same header across sections

Scroll up to the header section and type in your header whatever content you would like. This will update on all of the pages in the document because the headers are all linked together. After you're finished typing, check the box Different First Page under the Design tab. The header will disappear from the cover page, but it will remain on all of the other pages.

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