How to put a header anywhere on a page
As described in “Using Headers and Footers,” you use the header or footer of a Word document whenever you want to insert text or graphics that will repeat on every page. But you don’t have to be limited by the dotted line that indicates the area reserved for the header or the footer. You can put repeating content anywhere on the page!
So what do you need to do to make a header outside the header area? You need to understand three simple fundamental ideas. Since my fellow Word MVP Bill Coan has already used the term “Big Idea,” I’ll call these “Major Concepts”:
Major Concept #1
There are basically two ways for text and graphics to behave.
By default, text in Word behaves one way and graphics another way, but you can make text behave like a graphic and vice versa.
When you start typing in a document, Word treats everything you enter as text; it can’t go outside the margins. If you insert or paste a picture (in recent versions of Word), it also behaves like text. You can drag it, but only within the text area (and only where there is already text), and dragging it doesn’t change its essential “text” behavior.
If you insert a text box or AutoShape from the Drawing toolbar, however, you can drag it anywhere on the page, even outside the margins.
The reason for the difference in behavior is that the text is in the “text layer” of the document, and the text box or AutoShape is in the “drawing layer.”
When an object is in the drawing layer, it can relate to text in a variety of ways. These ways are referred to as “wrapping styles.” In recent versions of Word, when you insert or paste a graphic into a document, its wrapping style is “In Line With Text,” which means that it behaves like text—basically like a big font character. If you want it to behave like a graphic, you have to change the wrapping to some other style. Figure 1 shows the choices available.
If you want text to behave like a graphic, you must put it in a text box, a frame, or a wrapped table. Then you can put it anywhere on the page and make text wrap around it or (sometimes) in front of it.
Major Concept #2
“Floating” objects must be anchored to text.
Whenever you change the wrapping style of an object to something other In Line With Text, it is referred to as “wrapped” or (in earlier versions of Word) “floating.” Any “wrapped” or “floating” object must be anchored to a text paragraph. The graphic will always appear on the same page as the paragraph it is anchored to. If you have checked the box for “Object anchors” on the View tab of Tools | Options, then whenever you click on a wrapped/floating object, you will see the anchor symbol next to the paragraph it’s anchored to.
In order to repeat on every page, a graphic must be anchored to the header (or footer) paragraph.
Major Concept #3
A Word document is a multi-story building.
A Word document has not only “layers” but also “stories.” Text in the main document body is in a different “story” from the header and footer, footnotes and endnotes, comments, and text in text boxes. Word stores all this text separately.
If you are viewing your document in Print Layout view, you will notice that when you are working in the body of your document, the header and footer are dimmed. That is Word’s way of showing that the header/footer “story” is not active.
This means that when you are working in the document body, you cannot anchor an object to the header; even if you drag a graphic to the header area (top of the page), it will still be anchored to a paragraph in the document body; it will not become part of the header and will not repeat on every page.
In order to anchor a graphic to the header paragraph, you must be in the header.
Step by Step: Anchoring an object to the header
That’s all there is to it! You can do pretty much anything you want with a header if you just remember that anything outside the header area must be “wrapped” (not In Line With Text) and must be anchored to the header paragraph, which means that you must be in the header pane when you insert it.
Note for users of Word 2007 and above: None of the Major Concepts outlined above has changed in Ribbon versions of Word. The way you deal with headers and footers has changed dramatically, however (see Using Headers and Footers), and the behavior of graphic objects has become so complex and mysterious (to me, at least) that it is outside the scope of this article. Note, however, that Word 2007 and above do not offer a "Washout" selection for coloring a watermark picture inserted manually; my research has determined that the settings that replicate this are 85% Brightness and 15% Contrast.
This article copyright © 2006, 2008, 2014 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.