Numbering Front Matter (Ribbon)

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How to set up a document with front matter numbered separately in Word 2007 and above

Important Note: This article is for versions of Word that use the Ribbon, that is (currently), Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. For instructions for numbering front matter in previous versions, see  “How to set up a document with front matter numbered separately in Word 2003 and earlier.”

Word users often ask, “How can I set up a document that has the title page, table of contents, and so on numbered with roman numerals and the rest of the document with arabic numerals starting at 1?”

Publishers call the preliminary pages in a book the “front matter.” They aren’t always numbered separately — some books start with the title page as page 1 and are paginated continuously throughout — but when there is a significant amount of front matter, it’s conventional to number it using lowercase roman numerals.

This is quite easy to do but not obvious, especially if you are inexperienced in using sections. Bill Coan’s article on “How to control the page numbering in a Word document” is a splendid reference on the general subject of page numbering. What follow are specific instructions for setting up the type of document described above.

Step 1: Separate the main document from the front matter

The first thing you have to do is create two sections in the document by inserting a section break.

  1. If you have a manual page break (Ctrl+Enter) between the front matter and the main document, remove it.

  2. With the insertion point at the beginning of the page you want to be page 1 of the main book (that is, at the beginning of the first paragraph on the page), click
    Page Layout | Page Setup | Breaks | Section Breaks: Odd Page
    as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Breaks gallery in Word 2010.

  1. If you have opted to display the section on the status bar (right-click the status bar and choose “Section”), you will see that it now says “Section: 2.”

Step 2: Insert page numbering in the main document

The next step is to insert the 1, 2, 3 numbering in the main part of the document.

  1. Double-click in the header (or footer) area to activate it. The contextual Header & Footer Tools | Design tab (Figure 2) will be displayed.

Figure 2. The Header & Footer Tools | Design tab in (from top) Word 2007, 2010, and 2013

  1. Place the insertion point where you want to insert the page number.

If a page number is all you need in the header/footer, you can use paragraph alignment (Left, Right, or Center) to position the number.

If your header/footer will contain other text (such as a running head), you can use the built-in tab stops (a center one at the center of the line and a right-aligned one at the right margin) to position text and page numbers. If you have changed the document margins, you may need to reposition these tab stops. By default, however, these tab stops are alignment tabs, which will readjust automatically as the margins change.

  1. In the Header & Footer group, click Page Number and then Current Position (Figure 3). Select the desired page number style from the gallery. If all you want is a Plain Number, you can avoid the page number gallery entirely by pressing Alt+Shift+P where you want the page number to appear. This shortcut inserts a PAGE field anywhere in your document.

Figure 3. The Page Number menu.

  1. Click Page Number again, then Format Page Numbers…

  2. In the Page Number Format dialog (Figure 4), change the Page numbering setting from “Continue from previous section” to “Start at 1,” and click OK.

Figure 4. The Page Number Format dialog.

  1. If you will want a different position for the page numbers in the front matter (or if you want to omit page numbers for the front matter section), click the Link to Previous button in the Navigation section to turn it off. Although it is not necessary to unlink headers and footers to restart numbering or change the number format, you do have to unlink them in order to make a header or footer different or to leave it blank. For more on this (and headers and footers generally) see “Making the most of headers and footers.”

Step 3: Insert page numbering in the front matter

Now you will insert your i, ii, iii numbering in the front matter.

  1. In the Navigation group on the Header & Footer Tools | Design tab, click Previous Section.

  2. Use Header & Footer | Page Number | Format Page Numbers… to open the Format Page Number dialog (Figure 4) and change the Number format from  “1, 2, 3,” to “i, ii, iii.” Click OK.

  3. If you have unlinked this section from the following one, you will have to insert and position your page number as in Step 2. If not, you will already have a page number in the same position but now with a different format (roman numerals).

  4. You may want to format the page number as italic; this is a nice touch for roman numerals.

  5. To return to your document, click the red Close Header and Footer button (in the Close group on the far right end of the Ribbon) or double-click in the document area.

Step 4: Fine-tuning number placement

At this point you may be saying, “But now I have the number i on my title page. I don’t want a number to appear on my title page.” Or perhaps you want page numbers to appear in the header most of the time but in the footer on the first page of each chapter. No problem!

Numbering the front matter

  1. With the insertion point in Section 1, double-click in the header or footer area again.

  2. In the Options group on the Header & Footer Tools | Design tab (see Figure 2), check the box for “Different First Page.”

  3. You’ll see that you now have a separate First Page Header and First Page Footer. You can leave them empty, and there will be no page number on the first page.