Where did my header and footer go?
Word users are often puzzled by the sudden
disappearance of headers and footers in their documents in Print Layout view.
Instead of seeing the usual space between pages, they find that their document
text is continuous, with only a solid line marking the page break, as shown in
Figure 1. No space between pages
Users may also describe this problem as a change in the
vertical ruler (no blue area at the top) or even in the page size, saying that
their page is only 9″ high or that the text area “starts right at the top of the
The “white space” option
The reason for all these phenomena is a new feature added in Word 2002 that
allows users to hide the “white space” between pages. This option may be toggled
in Word’s Options as follows:
Figure 2. View tab of Options dialog showing
Figure 3. “White
space” option in Word 2007
Figure 4. “White
space” option in Word 2010
A quick shortcut
An alternative (and much quicker) way to return to the usual view is to hover
the mouse over the line between pages until the mouse pointer changes to a
double arrow and the “Show White Space” ScreenTip is displayed.
Figure 5. In Word 2002 or 2003, click when you see this mouse pointer to
restore your header and footer.
If you now hover your mouse over the space between pages,
you will see the “Hide White Space” pointer and ScreenTip (see Figure 6). If you
click now, you'll be back where you started (and that's probably how you got
Figure 6. Click now to hide white space
Word 2007 and above: Because it was so easy to
hide the white space by accident, it was suggested to Microsoft that perhaps
changing the shortcut to Ctrl+click would help. Instead, Microsoft
opted for a double-click, so the ScreenTips for showing and hiding
the white space are now as shown in Figures 7 and 8.
Figure 7. “Show White Space”
ScreenTip in Word 2010
Figure 8. “Hide White Space”
ScreenTip in Word 2010
Even with this change, users still manage to do this by accident,
so many of them
find this option very annoying. But it can be very useful when you want to read
text continuously (as you can do in Normal view) but still take advantage of the
more WYSIWYG Print Layout view, which can show footnotes, graphics, columns, and other
complex layout in place.
Two important points about this setting:
When white space is hidden, the setting affects not just
the “white space between pages,” as described in the Options, but
anything that is part of the header or footer, including watermarks and
other graphics (including text boxes) anchored
to the header or footer. If you have created
complex letterhead with text boxes in the margin, this can cause a good
bit of your document to disappear, which can be very disconcerting the
first time you experience it!
Whether white space is hidden or displayed can be very
puzzling and appear capricious, but in fact the display status follows very
definite rules, which are laid out in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article
“Description of the
‘White space between pages’ option in Word’” (although this article was
written for Word 2002 and 2003, there doesn’t appear to be an updated
article for later versions, and the content of this article is still
applicable for those later versions).
This article copyright © 2004, 2007,
2008, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2023 by
Suzanne S. Barnhill.