How to start page numbers after the first few pages in a Word document

April 1, 2022 0 Comments

If you don’t know about section breaks, move page numbers from a few in Microsoft Word but not all pages. This word tutorial shows you how to efficiently start a page number somewhere after the first few pages.

Microsoft Word blank documents open on a Mac.
Photo: Adobe Stock

Most Microsoft Word documents have page numbers, but not all of them start with page numbers on the first page. That first page could be a cover letter or a title page. In addition, after that first page, the document may contain a table of contents or something else in front of you that you do not want to number. It is not difficult to start a Word document page numbering scheme after the first few pages, but you must enter a section break. In this Microsoft Word tutorial, I will show you how to efficiently start a page number somewhere after the first few pages.

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use an earlier version. I recommend that you stop upgrading to Windows 11 until all issues work. For your convenience, you can download the display .docx and .doc files. You can’t insert section breaks in Word for the web, so you’ll want to use the Word desktop. We’ll work with the word header, but everything is the same in the footer.

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Review your needs

If you’re lucky, you’ll be working on a new Word document; If not, you need to carefully review the existing page numbering scheme, as it is easy to delete a setting that confuses the whole task. Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets for existing page numbers, but the following should be wide enough to get you closer:

  • Check the title and footer for the numberless pages on the front page. You probably won’t find any page numbering settings but check anyway.
  • Check the title and footnote for the first page of each chapter.
  • Check the header and footer on the last page.
  • Check titles and footnotes across all referencing segments: table of contents, tables of statistics, indicators, and more.

Once you know what you have, you can decide what to keep and what to remove. This is a situation where an article will not help you. If you are working on a new document, as shown in the four-page document Figure A, Much easier at the planning stage. Specifically, we do not want page numbers and page numbers in the title page or table of contents, respectively.

Four page word document with title page and TOC.
Figure A: We do not want page numbers on pages 1 and 2.

One more piece of advice. If you’re dealing with mandatory page breaks and sections, Show / Hide will help because it shows page and section break codes. To enable this feature, click the Show / Hide option in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. Click again to close it.

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Step one: Break the section

When you do not want to display the page number on the first few pages, you must use the section break. There is no way around it. Inserting section breaks lets you set different layouts for different sections. It is the backbone of a busy document with lots of formatting requirements.

After reviewing our document number requirements, we would like to start on page 3. To do this, insert a section break at the bottom of page 2 as follows:

  1. Select hard page breaks on page 2, as shown Figure B. Helps to be able to show / hide here. The section break we will include includes a page break, so you don’t need a hard break right now.
  2. Click the Layout tab.
  3. In the Page Setup group, click the Break option.
  4. Select the next page from the Category break section from the dropdown (Figure B)
Breaks a Microsoft Word document section by highlighting the next page
Figure B: Insert a next page section break.

Figure C The new section shows the break. As you can see, the mandatory hard page break has been replaced by a section break, and the text still starts on page 3. If the mandatory page break appears at the top of page 3, select it and delete

Insert the Microsoft Word section break.
Figure C: Insert a section break after the table of contents on page 2.

With the break of section, you are ready to start page numbering on page 3.

Step two: Number of pages

With category breaks, you can enable page numbering as follows:

  1. Go to page 3 or 4.
  2. Double-click the title area to open it in edit mode.
  3. On the Relevant Title and Footer tab, click the page number in the Title and Footer group.
  4. Select the top of the page from the resulting dropdown and then choose Plain Number 1 (Figure D) You can choose something else but keep things as simple as possible.
Microsoft Word Page Number Menu.
Figure D: Enter the page numbering scheme.

Turn on page numbering, turn it on for pages 3 and 4, but also page 2, which we don’t want. To disable page numbering for page 2, we need to unlink the headings in sections 1 and 2. To that end, click on the title tab of page 2 – a header at the bottom right that displays “Header-Section 2-“. Then, click on the link shown in the previous option Figure e In the navigation group. Doing so frees the two sections. As you can see Figure F, The number on page 2 is gone. Page Number Now start from page 3.

Screenshot of a Microsoft Word document when you are unlinking sections in a document
Figure E: Unlink sections.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word Doc with unlinked section.
Figure F: Unlinking two sections, removes page number from page 2.

There is another step you may want to take — but not necessarily.

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Step three: Change the starting page number

When you turn off page numbers for front topics, such as our title page and table of contents, you may want to change first. Displayed Page number 1. In our case, it’s really page 3, but it covers the front. To start page number with page 1, do the following:

  1. With the header open, select Page 3 in Page 3.
  2. Click the page number in the header and footer group.
  3. Select the format page number.
  4. In the resulting Page Numbering section of the resulting dialog, select the Start At option and type 1 as shown. Figure G..
  5. Click OK.
Microsoft Word Doc screenshot of the page number format menu.
Figure G: Restart page number.

As you can see Figure HPage numbers now start at 1 instead of 3 ৷ It’s a step you shouldn’t take, but it’s good to know that you can

Word Doc screenshot with page number in place.
Figure H: Page numbers now begin with 1.

It’s a simple exercise, but it’s easy to get confused if you enter page numbers Before Insert appropriate section break. If you start with a page number first, you might want to scroll around to make it work. If you have only closed the first page, use a different first page option instead of inserting a section break.

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