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Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Describes many of the special features of Microsoft Word you can use to make formatting your dissertation easier. While it's focused on dissertations, this information is useful for any long document.

Page Contents

If you're having problems with page numbers restarting at 1 for some chapters, see our Troubleshooting section.

This page will inform you about page numbers, including:

  • Adding page numbers general information
  • Using sections to control page numbering
  • Breaking the connection between sections
  • Adding the page numbers

Adding Page Numbers

Again, please remember that our template (available on the Main Page of this Guide) has all of this already built in.

Page Numbers are placed in the footer of your document, which is a shared space among all your pages. Anything you put in the footer will appear on all pages of your document, though you can also use Breaks to divide your document into different sections. This is how we get small Roman numerals in the front matter section, and Arabic numerals in the rest of the document, for example.

You edit the headers and footers by double clicking in the space in which they appear on the document. When you are finished editing, you can get back to the rest of your document by clicking the Close Header and Footer button in the Header Design Ribbon.

Microsoft Word provides you with the option of selecting a numbering style (e.g. “Roman Numeral”, “Arabic”) and gives you the option of selecting the “starting at” number.  You can set the page numbers for your entire document, or if you need more control, you can do it section-by-section as well.

If you want continuous pagination that is all in the same format, go to the Insert Ribbon, and in the Header & Footer Group, click on the Page Number icon. Choose the appropriate placement of the number and a style.

If you are writing a Rackham dissertation, you have somewhat more complicated pagination. For example, Rackham’s guidelines require that the page numbers begin on the third or fourth page of your document (depending on if you include a graphical frontispiece) and the page number on that page should be Roman numeral “ii”. Page numbering should continue on in Roman numerals until the first page of Chapter 1 is reached.  At that point, the numbering should restart in Arabic (“1, 2, 3…”). Rackham requires that all of your page numbers be placed at the bottom center of your pages.

To accomplish this, we are going to divide the document into different “sections”, break them apart (so they can have different page number formatting), and then add the page numbers.

View this video (despite the Word 2010 references, it's still accurate), or read below on how to achieve this.


Step 1: Using Sections to Control Page Numbering

Using Sections to Control Page Numbering

The following instructions demonstrate numbering a dissertation document according to Rackham’s guidelines.  These steps assume you are including a title page, a copyright page, dedication and acknowledgements and other front matter, and then the body of your dissertation.

  1. Put your cursor before the first letter of “Dedication” or whatever is the first thing that comes after your copyright page.
  2. On the Page Layout Ribbon, in the Page Setup Group, click on the arrow next to the Breaks icon () and select Next Page under the Section Breaks section.
  3. If you turn on the paragraph markers, you should now see a section break on the previous page.
  4. Put your cursor before the first letter of your first chapter and repeat steps 2 and 3.

You have just separated your dissertation into sections. If you want to see what section you are working in, on the left end of Status Bar (at the bottom of your Word document), Word tells you what page you are on, how many words are in your document, which section you are in, and so on.

If you don’t see the section information, right-click on the Status Bar, and select Section in the menu that appears.

Step 2: Breaking the Connection Between Sections

Breaking the Connection Between Sections

By default, the headers and footers of each section are connected to those of the sections before and after it.  Therefore, if you want different page number styles to vary from one section to the next (such as Roman or Arabic), you’ll need to break the connection between the sections. Particularly with landscaped pages, it is often helpful to break the connection in the header as well as in the footer.

  1. Put your cursor on the first page that needs the Roman numeral.
  2. On the Insert Ribbon, in the Header & Footer Group, click on the arrow under the Footer icon and select Edit Footer.
  3. You should now be in the footer of that page; in the Header & Footer Tools Design Ribbon, in the Navigation Group, unlink this section’s footer from previous sections’ footer by clicking the highlighted Link to Previous icon.
  4. Put your cursor in the header area, and again click the highlighted Link to Previous icon.
  5. Scroll down to the first page of the body of your dissertation (the chapters), make sure your cursor is in the footer, and click the highlighted Link to Previous icon again.
  6. Repeat for the header area.

You have now successfully unlinked footers of these sections. Any page numbers you put in the body of your document will not affect the page numbering of your front matter, and vice versa.

Step 3: Adding the Page Numbers

Adding the Page Numbers

  1. Scroll up to the section that contains your front matter and click in the footer of any page (don’t do anything for your title page and other pages that don’t require a page number).
  2. On the Insert Ribbon, in the Header & Footer Group, click on the arrow next to the Page Number icon and select the positioning you’d like.  Generally, Bottom of the Page is the choice, and either Plain Number 2 (centered) or Plain Number 3 (right aligned).
  3. To change to Roman Numerals, on the Insert Ribbon, in the Header & Footer Group, click on the arrow next to the Page Number icon and select Format Page Numbers… to set the “start at” number and the style of numbering.
  4. Scroll down to the first page of the next section (where your chapters start) and click in the footer.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to set the page numbers for each section of your document.