Avoid the “Bottom Center” page numbering option in Word

February 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

In both Word 2007 and Word 2010, there is a glitch in the page numbering options. Specifically, the “Bottom of Page” option — one of the available choices from the Page Number drop-down in the Header & Footer Tools tab (and also on the Insert tab) — will wipe out any text you’ve inserted into a footer.  In my tests, that occurs even if you have added text a line or two below the line where you place the page number.

Try it for yourself.  Using a test document, go into the footer (whether by double-clicking in the footer area of any page, right-clicking and then clicking “Edit Footer,” or clicking the Insert tab > Footer > Edit Footer), and type a word or two at the left side. Then navigate to the left end of the Header & Footer Tools tab and click the Page Number drop-down.  When it opens, hover over the Bottom of Page option, then glide the mouse pointer to the right and down to Plain Number 2 (the centered choice). Click it.

Shazam!  The text disappears.

If you like, test it again in a new blank document, but this time press the Enter key a couple of times before typing any text.  Type a word or two on every blank line.  Click somewhere in the first line.  Now click the Page Number drop-down > Bottom of Page > Plain Number 2.

All of the text — not just that on the same line as the page number — vanishes.

You can insert text at the left and/or right side of the footer after inserting a page number in this fashion.   Just double-click where you want to add the text, then proceed to type.   (This workaround is available because of Word’s “Click and Type” feature, which lets you double-click anywhere in the document and start typing, and also because footers in Word come with left, center, and right tabs built in.[1])

However, if your firm uses a document management system to insert a document ID in the footer, the above workaround might not be successful.  And besides, there are a couple of more elegant ways to insert a page number — without deleting any existing text — if the need arises.

One method involves tabbing to the center of the footer, then clicking the Page Number drop-down, hovering over the Current Position option, and clicking Simple Plain Number 1.  Don’t be thrown off by the fact that the preview shows the page number at the left.  The page number code actually will appear at the cursor position.

Another method involves tabbing to the center, then simply using the keyboard shortcut Alt Shift P to insert a page number code.

If you prefer the “Page X of Y” format, just position your cursor, then click the Page Number drop-down, hover over Current Position, and scroll through the page numbering gallery until you see “Page X of Y.”  Click to insert the codes.

For some reason, Microsoft chose to format the page numbers in this option with boldface.  However, it’s a simple matter to turn off the boldface.  Just select (highlight) the entire “Page X of Y” footer and press Ctrl B twice.  (The bolding might go away the first time you press Ctrl B, but depending on the circumstances, the key combination might apply bolding the first time and remove it the second time.)

So to recap:  If you ever have to insert a page number code into a footer that contains text, do not use the Bottom of Page option from the Page Number drop-down.  Instead, before inserting the page number, tab to the center of the footer, then either use the Current Position option in the Page Numbering drop-down or, alternatively, simply press the key combination Alt Shift P.  Either of those latter two methods will preserve any text that previously was inserted into the footer.

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[1]  “Click and Type” must be enabled in order for this procedure to work.  If it doesn’t work,  do the following:  In Word 2010, click the File tab > Options, and click the Advanced category (at the left side of the Options screen).  The Click and Type option appears toward the bottom of the Editing options group (the first one in the Advanced Category).  If it’s unchecked, click to check it, then OK out of the Options screen.  In Word 2007, click the Office button > Word Options, and click the Advanced category (left side of the Options screen) .  As in Word 2010, the Click and Type option appears toward the bottom of the Editing options group (the first one in the Advanced Category).  If it’s unchecked, click to check it, then OK out of the Options screen.

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