Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu: Part4 Page Numbers

Tip #6 Page numbers

Click here for part 3

[click on images to see a larger version]

We’ve talked a lot about headers and footers, but there are a few specifics to do with page numbers. Word 2007 introduced a new way to add page numbers and a new way to format them. I suggest you use them both as they are a big improvement.

Page Number

Users of earlier versions of Word have to approach page numbers differently, so I’ll show how older versions do it too.

 For Word 2007 users, the simplest way is to open up the header/footer design menu on the ribbon (by clicking on the header or footer area of the page) and clicking on the Page Number button as in this screenshot.

Selecting the Top of Page or Bottom of Page options will give you a variety of pre-formatted page number field options in the header or footer respectively. Now, when I write page number field, what you are doing here is inserting a special field code that shows the number of the current page. In other words, when you view or print a page, Word works out which page you’re on and substitutes that page number for the field code.

As for the other options: Page Margins offers fancy stuff, not recommended for straight fiction; Current Position puts a page number field where you currently have the cursor. You need to use this if your page number needs to share its header/footer with something else. For example, if you want book name and page number to both be on the header, you need to do something like this…

Inserting page numbers at the current position

In this example I’ve created a new header using the ‘Blank (three columns)’ option we saw in an earlier tip. On the left placeholder (where it says [Type Text]) I’ve put the book name.

  • I selected the right-hand placeholder.
  • I then select Page Number | Current Position This inserts a page number field into the right-hand placeholder.

The reason I’ve given this example is that if, instead, I had set up the three column header and then added page numbers using Page Number | Top of Page, Word would have deleted the rest of the header and left me with just the page number.

Make sure you have entered page numbers for ALL your headers/footers

It’s easy to forget this. Say your header has different first page, odd page, and even page; now you want to add the footer and make it the same for all pages (except the blank ones). As far as Word is concerned, you still have three different footers (first page, odd, even) and you need to define each one separately.

One gotcha in my example novel of Andrew Cyrus Hudson’s Drift, was that the opening chapters were short. So short that there weren’t enough pages to show an even numbered page. I find the best approach is to add blank pages — just so I have enough to define all three headers and footers — and then delete the extra pages.

Formatting page numbers

On the Page Number ribbon button we’ve just been looking at, one of the options is Format Page Numbers… which brings up the following dialog.


It does more than merely format the page number, as you can see. Go create a header or footer with a page number and play with this dialog until you’re happy using it. It’s quite obvious but I’ll add a couple of tips:

  • In this dialog you are setting options for the current section. As we saw earlier, the best approach is to set up your headers and footers, and other section options, for the section at the start of the main body of your text, and then use link to previous to copy your settings throughout the remainder of the book.
  • Front matter is all the stuff that goes before the main text of your book: copyright, title, preface, introduction, acknowledgement, dedication, foreword… that sort of thing. It is standard book design practice that if you choose to number the pages of the front matter, then do so using lower case Roman numerals. For example, ‘i’, ‘ii’, ‘iii’, ‘iv’ and so on. If you number front matter pages this way, then once you get into the main body of your book, start with Arabic numerals, beginning with page ‘1’. Most fiction books don’t bother with numbering the front matter pages, simply starting with page ‘1’ when the main body starts.

Working with page numbers in earlier versions of Word

In earlier versions you had to deal directly with the concept of fields. In fact, Word 2007 uses fields in exactly the same way; it’s just that the approach I’ve just described does all the hard work for you so you don’t need to know what a field is.

With the earlier versions you need to find the place where you want the page number in the header or footer and then select from the main menu Insert | Field. (You can also bring up this dialog using ALT + I, F)

You will see a list of fields you can insert at this point (see screenshot below).

  • Scroll down and pick the field name, ‘Page’.
  • Click on the Field Codes button, and enter ‘MERGEFORMAT’, as I’ve done in the example screenshot below. The ‘MERGEFORMAT’ option tells Word to start counting its page numbers where it left off at the end of the previous section. If you don’t, Word will start numbering each section at page#1.


Adding the page fieldcode in Word 2003


If you’re using Word 2007 or later, Word will do this ‘mergeformat’ malarkey for you automatically.

Of course, there may be places where you want  Word to start numbering from page 1, most likely as you move from front matter to the main part of your book. In this case, you can change the field code option by clicking on the page number in your header or footer, and then Right-click | Edit Field.

For Word 2007 users, this is all so much easier. You can set the starting page number for the current section with the Page Number Format dialog we saw earlier in this tip.

Click here for part 3

This post is an extract from the book Format YOUR Print Book with Createspace, available in paperback (US only)

 $5.99 at | $5.99 at

and as a Kindle eBook  $2.99 –  | £2.00 –




About Tim C. Taylor

Science fiction publisher and author of the bestselling Human Legion series. I live with my wife and young family in an English village. I am currently writing full time, when I'm not roped into building Lego.
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13 Responses to Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu: Part4 Page Numbers

  1. Denise Channing says:

    Is there inforation anywhere on how to get the page numbers to show or not in different sections? Google is failing me on that, and I only have Word 2000.

    • timctaylor says:

      Hi Denise,
      The book covers Word 2003 onwards, but I spent many years with Word 97 and can tell you how that works. In fact the functionality is the same as Word 2003+ except the menus you access to tell Word what to do are different. Make sure you’re in print layout view, double click on the header/ footer area on the page and you should bring up the header/footer window. It does the same things but looks different
      If you want the current section to have different page numbers from other sections, then make sure you’ve set the ‘same as previous’ option off (it should look grayed out if it is). the other difference is that you set the different first page/ different even/odd options in the page layout dialog and not in the header/ footer dialog.

      Good luck

  2. Mark Boss says:

    Tim, thank you for this series of articles. They are a big help to self-published authors like me. I’ve formatted for ereaders before, but this is my first try at formatting a paper book for Createspace, and your advice has been very useful.

  3. Laura Eno says:

    I’m digging back through here again. 🙂 It just occured to me, if you offered this at Smashwords, I could download it as a pdf and print it out. Or are you feverishly working on the paperback?

  4. Pingback: Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu: Part5 – Styles | Tim C. Taylor

  5. Laura Hughes says:

    Thank You! I, too, have struggled with the whole page numbering thing… You have helped me help my client. Thanks a million!

  6. Policarpio Perez says:

    Se lo digo en español, en inglés sería dificil para mí. Me lo sabrá perdonar:

  7. lara hentz says:

    Oh Tim THANK YOU! I had such an issue formatting my book – setting up page numbers caused weeks of delays for me. I am not sure my Kindle edition is correct now that I read this. Thank you SO MUCH for this series.
    Your help is brilliant!

  8. Pingback: Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu. Part3: Sections | Tim C. Taylor

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