Knowing how to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word is a useful tool to have when crafting Word documents, particularly when it comes to official reports that often have cover pages and a table of contents.
By default, Microsoft Word will start page numbering from the very first page, regardless of how you intend to use it. However, there is a way to manipulate your pages to improve readability and the user experience.
You can manipulate page numbering by splitting the document into sections, with each section dictating where you want the numbering to start. We've detailed the full process below, including a preparatory step you will need to take before you're able to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word.
How to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word
Step 1: Prepare your document
To number pages starting from page two and higher in Microsoft Word, you must divide your document into sections. Section breaks allow you to start numbering different pages beginning with number one.
Click your cursor at the top of the page where you want your numbering to start. In the top ribbon, click the Layout tab to open a set of commands underneath.
Clicking the Breaks dropdown menu will reveal a number of Section Break types. You can choose any of these options based on your needs, but it's likely you will be using Continuous in most cases. Continuous will simply start a new section wherever your cursor is placed.
You now have two sections in your document. The first one contains pages that you don’t want to be numbered while the second section contains pages you do want to be numbered.
Step 2: Insert page numbers
We'll start by inserting page numbers for the whole document. In the top ribbon, click the Insert tab, find the Header & Footer section, and click on the Page Number dropdown menu.
Choose Top of Page, Bottom of Page, or Page Margins, depending on where you want to insert the page numbers.
Click on the desired location and choose a numbering style, including alignment, bolded text, use of brackets, and more. Your whole document should now have page numbers.
Step 3: Deselect the Link to Previous option
Next, we want to unlink this page numbering between the two sections you created in the preparation phase.
On any page from the section you want numbered, double-click either the header, footer, or margin, depending on where you positioned your page numbers. A new tab titled Header & Footer should appear in your top ribbon with a series of commands underneath.
Under Navigation, the Link to Previous option should, by default, be activated. Click it to deselect this option. The sections created in the preparation stage should now operate under distinct page numbering.
Step 4: Choose a number to start page numbering
By discontinuing the numbering between the two sections, you’re now able to start numbering from your chosen page. By default, the page number mirrors the page position in the document.
You may wish to change this if, for example, you’re writing a book or an academic paper with a title page or a cover page and want to number your pages starting from 1.
Click your cursor on any page in the numbered section. Then, either head to the Insert tab and open the Header & Footer section, or double-click the header, footer, or margin where the page number is. This will open the Header & Footer ribbon. Click the Page Number dropdown and select Format Page Numbers.
At the bottom of the menu, type your desired number in Start at and click OK.
Step 5: Remove page numbering from the first section
The final part of the process is to remove any page numbers from pages you don't want to count, such as the cover or table of contents.
Click your cursor on any page in the section that should have no numbering – presumably, the first few pages of the document. Locate the Page Number dropdown within the Header & Footer commands and click Remove Page Numbers.
Because you’ve unlinked the sections created in the preparation step, the first section should now be number-free. The rest of the document should be numbered, starting with the page separating the two sections.
Step 6 (optional): Change the page number format
If you would like the page numbers to be represented in a different way, such as Roman numerals for the introductory section of your report, this can be achieved by using the menus outlined in Step 4.
To do this, open the Format Page Numbers menu by clicking Insert and then the Header & Footer menu, followed by the Page Number dropdown and then Format Page Numbers. At the top, the Number format dropdown contains multiple numbering styles to choose from, including Roman numerals.
Starting page numbering from a specific page can make a huge difference to the readability of your document, particularly if it’s an academic or professional paper.
While it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, modifying settings for sections and page numbers could get tricky, which is why we recommend breaking your pages into sections before you begin.
Then, you can determine the starting point and formatting for your page numbering in the second section before removing any numbering from the first section.
You can further advance your Microsoft Office knowledge by reading our guides on how to use the Microsoft Office Ribbon, how to insert a tick or a cross symbol in Microsoft Word and Excel, or how to insert and edit footnotes in Microsoft Word.
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Ioana holds a BSc in Business Management from King's College London, and has worked for over four years as a management consultant in the industries of technology, media and telecoms. Ioana is also a successful entrepreneur, having launched several social enterprises. Writing interests include market research and planning, start-up culture and ethics, agile methodology, and financial modelling. No stranger to tech and hackathons, she is also an accomplished fintech and SaaS writer.