Page numbers (or folios)

The traditional practice is to have the numbering of pages starting on the first page of Chapter One. This is relatively simple in Word, but there are a number of stages to get where you want to be.

The first thing to do is work out what you want in your prelims and add all that in before you do anything else – see here for suggestions as to suitable content.

Shown below are the completed prelims for a book using a page break command to force content onto a new page when required. Circled is the ‘show invisibles’ option on the ‘Home’ tab. This helps you to see what you’re doing.

showing invisibles in Word

To make your main text start at page one you need to split the document into sections.

Select the Layout tab.
Place your cursor at the very start of Chapter One to the left of the left of the heading..
From the Breaks drop-down menu choose

creating a section break

The ‘invisibles’ will now show ‘Section Break (Next Page)’.

section break visible

Next double-click in the ‘footer’ area for Chapter One. (your cursor will now be in the footer area)
You will see that your Chapter One now is the first page of ‘Section 2’
The tab just above the ‘Footer’ panel shows ‘Same as Previous’
Click ‘Link to Previous’ in the ribbon (top of screen) to deactivate that link.

footer area for section break

The ‘Same as Previous’ tab should now have disappeared. From the drop-down menu under Page Number select Bottom of Page (Plain Number 2)

footer link removed

You’re not quite there because it will not show as page number 1 – in my case is says 7
You will have to go to the Page Number drop-down menu again and Format Page Numbers.

format page numbers

You now have a small dialogue box where you need to select Start atrather than Continue from previous section – then click OK

continue from previous section

Your Chapter One opening page now shows as page 1
But your next page has no page number
This is because we need different odd and even pages to make the centre margins work.

Repeat the process for the next page by putting your cursor in the footer area.
Click on Link to Previous in the Ribbon to deselect it.
Go to Page Number (on Ribbon) > select Bottom of Page > Plain Number 2 as before
Your pages should all now be numbered from your opening page to the end of your book.


We need to format the page numbers as they may be in the wrong typeface and font.
Simply double-click on the page number and a dialogue box will appear.
Change the typeface and size to the same as your main text.
All the odd-numbered pages will change.

format page numbers

Do the same for the first even-numbered page.
All the page numbers will now be in the correct typeface and size.


Your page numbers may be tucked up far too close to close to your text.
This is a function of the specified bottom margin and the Footer panel size.
Both can be adjusted quite easily and without affecting anything else on your document.

If you set up your page margins from this site you will have a Bottom Margin of 1.8 cm and a Footer of 1.5 cm. This means is there is only 0.3 cm (3mm, 1/8″) between the bottom of the text and the page number. To make the page number drop lower, all we need to do is change the Footer size.

Choose the Layout tab on the Ribbon
Then Margins > Custom Margins
We still want Different odd and even ticket, but change the Footer to 0.5 cm

Your page number is now in a much better position.

final tweaks to folios

NB There are built-in minimum margins in Word, sometimes depending on what printer you use, so some of these measurements may be trial and error. All margins can be tweaked at the end of this whole process, so there is no need to start from scratch if a margin looks slightly wrong.

Choosing the page size

There are many factors governing the precise measurements for text pages and margins, but here are the basic terms you are going to come across.

Names for areas in a page layout

What size should my book be?
There are no hard and fast rules other than it makes good sense to opt for a ‘popular’ size. I would recommended 12.9cm x 19.8cm (5.1″ x 7.8″). This is called B Format and is common and acceptable in both the US and UK. (this size has been traditionally used for ‘trade paperbacks’ in the US and ‘literary fiction’ in thr UK)

Don’t try to make these too small just in order to cram more text on a page. Again most printers will make recommendations, often specifying minimum sizes. The inside margins (or gutter) will commonly be larger on a paperback than the outside margins as a tight binding can make it difficult to open it flat. (those of you who habitually ‘break’ the spine when reading a paperback book can skip this advice)

Suggested margin sizes for B Format layout
These will work for most print suppliers and are what I use for my novels. I’ve given measurements in inches and mm. (alternatively, just find a book that looks right and measure the margins and page size – then copy)

Margins for a B format paperback