Inserting Page Numbers and Running Heads


Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, 3rd Edition is almost here!

The Kindle edition goes live this Thursday, October 16th (you can pre-order it here on and here on Other e-book formats and the paperback will – avoiding any major disasters – be available by the day of the Self-Printed Splash, Friday October 24th. If you want a little e-mail reminder that it’s out, sign up to my laughably sporadic newsletter.

It’s been nearly two years since I brought out version 2.0 and a lot has changed. I’ve been addressing some of this new stuff in recent posts like Closing the Facebook, Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told and Self-Publishing a New Edition? Get Rid of the Old One First.

Today we’re going to do something that I know a lot of you have been asking for: we’re going to put page numbers and running heads into our CreateSpace paperback interior using MS Word’s “Sections” feature, and we’re going to do it step-by-step.


The What Now?

I sincerely hope it goes without saying that the interior of your CreateSpace paperback needs to have page numbers, and if you want it to look a bit fancy you might consider adding running heads to it as well. These are just headers – usually a combination of either the title of the book and the author’s name or the title of the book and the section of it you’re in – that run throughout the book. The Book Designer has an excellent explainer on running heads here.

If you have even a mild grasp of MS Word, you’ll already know how to use headers and footers. That bit’s easy. Where this gets tricky is on the pages of our book where we don’t want page numbers or headers to appear.

For example, you shouldn’t have page numbers until the actual text of your book begins. In Self-Printed 2.0, there’s something like 11 or 12 pages where you have things like reviews, the table of contents, about the author, title page, half-title page, etc. None of them should have page numbers. The page numbers only start on page 13, which is the first page of the introduction. Trickier again is the rule that if a page is blank – like the even page at the end of the chapter that we have to leave blank so the next chapter can start on an odd page, as it should – it should be completely blank, with no page number or running head. Then you might have no running head on the first page of a chapter, but you still want a page number.

(If any of that sounds confusing, follow my simple rule for getting things right in self-publishing: find a traditionally published book that’s similar to yours and note its layout. Then model yours on it.)

How can you achieve this? The answer is to use MS Word to divide your book up into sections, and then make each section look the way you want it. Sounds simple, right? Well…

Link to Previous Lucifer

I’ve talked before about how much I loathe MS Word. Yes, it’s a workhorse and I use it for all my writing, formatting, layout, etc. but at the same time it acts like an evil AI who throws things into my documents while I sleep. I’m not sure counter-intuitive is the right term, but while my Mac applications help me work, I only seem to get work done on MS Word in spite of it.

(One of the best examples of Microsoft’s inherent idiocy I’ve come across is Protected View. It’s a feature that stops you from printing an item you’ve opened as an e-mail attachment. It’ll tell you it’s in protected view so you can’t print. But all you have to do to get past it is click a button that says something like Enable Printing. But you’re already trying to print, so why wouldn’t you click that button? WHAT IS THE BUTTON FOR?!?!?!??!? And don’t get me started on a shut down procedure that includes a drop-down menu AND an Okay button AFTER you’ve selected the option to Shut Down…)

When it comes to using sections, both our patience and our intellect will be challenged by a little check box labelled Link to Previous. It will cause untold problems if you don’t keep your eyes peeled for its insidious ways. You have to watch this a-hole at all times because if you don’t, it WILL destroy you.


NB: I use Word on a Mac. You might not. If you don’t, the screenshots will look different to what you see on your screen but the general principles will be the same. No freak outs allowed. Click images for larger versions. 

Sections Step-by-Step

So let’s begin. We’re going to work with the MS Word document that is destined to become our CreateSpace interior, i.e. the template you downloaded from CS and then filled in with all your lovely words and stuff. This document should be (a) absolutely the final, final, FINAL version of your text, (b) already laid out as you want it to print, i.e. blank pages left blank already and (c) clean – get rid of any existing sections or headers/footers.

Then, as is always the case with my instructions, the coffee-making comes next. Once you have a steaming mug of caffeine within reach, we’re good to go.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 14.56.10

1. Insert page numbers (whole document)

Click in the space at the bottom of your virtual pages or use the Insert -> Page Numbers in the File Menu to add page numbers to your document. I like to keep things simple, inserting centre-aligned numbers in my footers, but if you’re feeling brave you could do left-aligned on even pages and right-aligned on odd, or combine your running heads and page numbers into one line at the top of the page.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 14.51.50

2. Insert running heads (whole document)

Click in the space at the top of your virtual pages or use the View -> Header/Footer option in the File Menu to add text to your headers. If you’ve written a novel, you’ll have the same running heads the whole way through. (Refer to The Book Designer’s post, linked above, for more information.) As I have a non-fiction book, I’m going with the title of the book on the even/lefthand page and the title of the section or part on the odd/righthand page.

Now we should have different odd/even page running heads throughout our document and a page number on every page.

3. Create a new section

Now that we’ve put all this lovely stuff in, we have to take some of it back out, starting with all the pages before the first page of our actual book, i.e. the first page of the book’s text, like Chapter One page 1 or the introduction. I can only do this by dividing my document up into two sections: everything up until page one of the main text (the blank bit) and everything that comes after that (where I want header/footer stuff).

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.10.50

To create a section I simply “break” the document by inserting a section break – Insert -> Break -> Section Page (Next Page) – at the end of the page before the first page of my new section. (Yeah, simply might not belong in that sentence…) You’ll know you’ve done it when (i) you hit the Show Non-Printing Characters button and a double blue line appears and/or (ii) click into your header or footer and now see it named “Section 2”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.13.00

Now this is where things get tricky

4. Break all links

You now have two sections that have the same page numbers, running heads, etc. If MS Word wasn’t the devil, you would just be able to delete everything in Section 1’s headers and footers – thus making them blank – and everything in Section 2 would be unaffected.


Nothing is ever that simple in a Micro “We Think You’re Dumb and So Will Second-Guess Everything You Do” Soft program. If you try to delete something from a Section 1 header/footer now, it will disappear from Section 2 as well, because MS Word assumes that even though you went to the trouble of splitting them up, you still want them both to be the same. (I mean… REALLY.)

So before you do anything – BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING – to either section’s header/footer text, you must break all links between them.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.18.10

In the new section you’ve just created (Section 2 here), click into each header and footer that’s labelled “Same as previous” and, in the Header/Footer toolbox, uncheck the box “Link With Previous.” Do this even if the header/footer is blank. 

Now – sigh of relief – you can make the changes you want, which in this case is to delete everything in headers and footers in all of Section 1. Hooray!

5. First page of chapter/section

The first page of a chapter or a section needs a page number but NOT a running head, usually, and the first page of my newly created Section 2 is also the first page of my Introduction. So now I’m going to click into its header and make sure the Different First Page box is checked in the Header/Footer toolbox. This will allow me to – yes, you’ve guessed it – make a different first page in terms of headers/footers without upsetting the rest of the headers/footers in the section. I want to keep the page number but delete the running head, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.23.27

WARNING: Guess what happened when I checked the Different First Page box? The Link to Previous box checked itself as well! The MS Devil lurks AT EVERY TURN. Needless to say, uncheck that thing.

6. Odd/Even Page Running Heads

If you looked at two pages at a time, you were just working in a screen that looked like this (below): first page of your section/chapter on the left of the screen, the even page on the right. (Please note: in the real book, the first/odd page will be on the RIGHT side of the book as you hold it, and the even page will be on the LEFT. The easy way to remember this is to think of page 1 of a book. What side is that always on? As it’s the very first, it’s always on on the right. The inside of the cover is to its left.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.27.16

Now we want to scroll down until we’re looking at the next pair of pages (below). These should be labeled Odd Page Header and Even Page Header. For my non-fiction book, every Even Page Header is going to say the same thing: Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. But the Odd Page Headers will bear the name of whatever section of the book they happen to be in. So here, I have to go to the Odd Page Header and enter the name of the first section or part. (FYI: this running head should actually say Introduction. It does now.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.31.45

Because I unchecked all the “Link to Previous” boxes before I even started thinking about amending, deleting, etc. I can do this without there being an unwelcome ripple effect on the rest of my book.

7. The blank page problem (a one-page section)

So far, so good. But – nooooooooooo! – when I reach the other end of my introduction, I see that it ends on an odd page. Disaster! All new sections/chapters have to start on odd pages, which means I need to leave a blank (even) page after the introduction. That’s all well and good, but as blank pages need to be completely blank, this means I have to remove the header/footer text on it – while keeping the header/footer text on either side. Ugh.

How will I do this? I’ll create a new, one-page section.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.40.19

I go to the last line of text at the end of my introduction (or the line underneath it) and Insert -> Break -> Section Break (Next Page). Then I go towards the end of the blank page and insert another Section Break (Next Page). I now find myself working with four sections:

  • Section 1: Front matter, all the pages we made blank headers/footers for
  • Section 2: The introduction
  • Section 3: The blank page
  • Section 4: The first page of chapter one, the next “it needs stuff in its headers/footers” section

***Before I do anything else now, I must go through the all the new sections I’ve just created and UNCHECK Link to Previous.***

(Yes: bold, underlined and italics. UNCHECK IT!)

Section 3 is my blank page, and since we’re using Different First Page as a default setting here, it is also a different first page. So all you should need to delete here is the page number in the footer.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.53.36

I break the rules a little with my chapters, in that I put their title page on an odd page but I start the text of the chapter on the back of that, i.e. on an even page. I’ve seen this done in other non-fiction books and I like it, because I think otherwise there’d be too many blank pages and so too much flicking to get to the text. So now I delete the page number on the first page of Section 4/first page of my new part/chapter, making that page’s headers/footers completely blank. You may have to do something different here depending on how you’ve laid out your book.

Now I repeat Step 6, changing the Odd Page Header to the specific title of this chapter…

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.51.45

From here on in, all we do is repeat these steps whenever we need there to be a change in the appearance of our headers/footers.

  1. Make a new section
  2. Uncheck the Link to Previous box so we can make changes without bringing about Armageddon
  3. Delete what we need to
  4. Amend what we need to
  5. Save changes and move on

When we encounter a blank page between the section we’re working in and the next section we’re going to create, we simply:

  1. Make 2 new sections, one of them consisting of JUST the blank page
  2. Uncheck the Link to Previous box
  3. Delete what we need to
  4. Amend what we need to
  5. Save changes and move on

Whenever this goes wrong, I find it’s down to one of two common mistakes:

  • Not unchecking enough Link to Previous. When you create a new section, you’ll be unchecking ***SIX*** Link to Previous boxes, one for each of the following: first page header, first page footer, even page header, even page footer, odd page header, odd page footer. You must do all of these before you even THINK about deleting/changing something. When you are working with a blank page section, don’t forget to uncheck the LTP box for both it and all the aforementioned ones in the next section too. Uncheck the box even if the header/footer is blank.
  • Not working in a logical order. Start at the beginning and work your way through. Do this only with the final version of your book because can you imagine how complicated it gets if, in the middle of all this, you need to go back and insert a new blank page/section? Yeah, good luck with that.

Checking Your Book

To make absolutely sure that you’ve done this correctly, I’d recommend saving your interior as a PDF and then selecting the View -> Two Pages option in your PDF viewer. This should show you the pairs of pages as they will appear in the finished product, i.e. with the even numbered page to the left of your screen and the odd numbered page to the right.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 17.07.41

This will help you determine if you have blank headers/footers where you should, if page numbers are inserted correctly, if your chapters start on odd pages throughout, etc. etc.

So that’s it! Any questions?

(Reading over this post, I realize it’s not very clear or at least as clear as I’d like it to be. I’m hoping that’d down to the fact that we’re talking about it in the abstract and then when you come to actually do it, you’ll be able to make sense of my instructions. Fingers crossed.)

Taking part in the Self-Printed Splash? THANK YOU to everyone who e-mailed their questions. You will be hearing from me within the next 7-10 days re: taking part in the splash and getting your free digital copy of Self-Printed 3.0…

Thinking about self-publishing? Free next Sunday morning? In the Dublin area or able to get to it? I’m doing a three-hour self-publishing workshop next Sunday, October 19th, in the beautiful Co. Dublin village of Dalkey as part of the Dalkey Creates festival. Tickets are just €20 and you can buy them and find out more here.

22 thoughts on “Inserting Page Numbers and Running Heads

  1. Joel D Canfield says:

    Perhaps because I think additively rather than subtractively, I create all my sections first, add heads and feets from the beginning, killing L2P as needed.

    I also put nickels in a jar so eventually I can buy InDesign and never use Word for book layout again.

  2. Rosemary says:

    I offer you unicorn tears, and coffee – plus a slab of chocolate.
    I have never even attempted to do something like this in Word, but have bookmarked this page for the inevitable day that I will have to do so and be crying my eyes out because it’s so complicated!

  3. writer2050 says:

    Thanks again, Catherine. I used an interior designer and a cover designer for my CreateSpace book. I only did one book and now I use a web designer for the headers (if I use one) and covers though I’ll have to try your ideas for not numbering the first few pages.

  4. peterpure says:

    Hi Catherine, I’m so excited about the new revision – I have version 2 and learned a lot!
    When is the paperback edition of 3.0 likely to be available please?

  5. Susan Lee Kerr says:

    So excited to have edition 3 in my Kindle… and I’m exactly at this stage you’re blogging — but please… will you (or someone like you as if that were possible) repeat, translating it into Apache Open Office? I am going cross-eyed and cross.

  6. illinoishokie says:

    Ermagerd reading this just makes me that much more relieved that I use OpenOffice for my CreateSpace books and only mess with Word for the Kindle editions.

    • susanleekerr says:

      illi-shokie, I’m so impressed that you managed it on Open Office. Running Heads and Page Numbers is where I banged my head so hard that I finally broke one of Catherine’s rules and I’m paying someone to do it. But one of her others is to pay someone to design cover, and my-sister-the-art-director is doing it for free. So I think Catherine might forgive me my Running Header meltdown.

      • Susan Lee Kerr says:

        Me again, two-and-a-half-months later. Even with the help found as mentioned above, in January I resorted to buying Word (2013). The ms received was almost right, but for three blasted header-footers. This entry of dear, dear Caffienated CRH’s did the final trick — I broke all the Links to Previous and it worked!

  7. says:

    I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried! I keep getting this extra blank page when I enter a break and then all the pages are in the wrong place and I can’t work out how to get rid of it….I am giving up and going to pay someone before I lose the will to live altogether….(although thanks for trying Catherine – you have been great with everything else…)

    • Susan Lee Kerr says:

      Hey Clara, hope you have made it through. Even with paying someone there was still lots of back-and-forth. Lots. Decided to cut to the chase and used CRH’s source ebookpartnership to do the transformation for ebooks; just did not have the strength to try. Outcome: TA-DAH, The Extraordinary Dr Epstein (biographical fiction) published last week in paperback and Kindle. Very happy with the results, and it is even starting to sell. I sing Catherine Ryan Howard’s praises wherever I go.

      • says:

        Hi Susan. Congratulations! Must be a fantastic feeling. I did employ someone in the end and now have a proof copy. Am about to send him some little corrections so really hoping it won’t be long until I’m ready to go…. I agree with singing Catherine’s praises, I’m the same 🙂

  8. evie gaughan says:

    Once again, your brutal honesty and visceral hatred for MS Word had me giggling all the way through this horrible, horrible job! Got there in the end and that’s thanks purely to YOUR dedication and generosity. You’re a corker Catherine, nuff said 🙂

  9. Sasha says:

    You have saved my sanity. I was punching walls yesterday trying to get the page numbers right. Nothing seemed to make sense and I spent the whole day ticking and unpicking, adding and deleting. Then I sat down with your guide today and started from scratch. FORTY FIVE minutes later and my book is fully formatted. Page numbers where they should be. Amazing! Thank you so much.

  10. LYRIC says:

    Thank you for succinctly explaining the page numbering procedure for different odd and even headers and footers. This information just saved me from working late on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year 2016!

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