Word: Working with headers and footers

June 4, 2012

A couple of colleagues have been baffled by how Word 2007/2010 now deals with headers and footers compared to Word 2003, so here are two methods for opening the header/footer area. Once you’re in the header/footer area, you can add a new header/footer from the list of available headers/footers, insert your own, edit an existing one, or delete it. You can also save your custom header/footer to the Header (or Footer) Gallery, but I won’t deal with that in this post.

Method 1: Double-click inside the header/footer area

The quickest way to open the header/footer area is to double-click in the very top (or bottom) area of your page, above the first line of text.

Double-click ABOVE the main page

Method 2: Use the ribbon

  1. To open the header/footer area, go to the Insert tab.
  2. In the Header & Footer group, click the small drop-down arrow to the right of Header (or Footer).

Insert tab, Header and Footer group

Once the header/footer area is open, you can:

  • add a default header/footer by choosing it from the list (if you can’t see the list of default headers/footers, go to the Insert tab > Header & Footer group, then click the small drop-down arrow to the right of Header [or Footer])
  • add your own header/footer or edit an existing one by selecting Edit Header (or Edit Footer) at the bottom of the list
    Edit header/footer
  • delete the existing header/footer by selecting Remove Header (or Remove Footer) at the bottom of the list
  • adjust the settings for the header/footer by using the tools on the Header & Footer Tools > Design tab (NOTE: This tab is ONLY available when you are in the Header/Footer area; if you are in the main document, you cannot see this tab and have to open the header/footer area to access these tools.)
  • switch between the header and footer by clicking Go to Footer (or Go to Header) on the Header & Footer Tools >Design tab

When you’ve finished making changes, close the header/footer area using one of these two methods:

  • Double-click inside the main document (i.e. outside the header/footer).
  • Click the Close Header and Footer button in the Header & Footer Tools > Design tab.

Header and Footer Tools Design tab


  1. I just found something amazing that I really wanted to share with you, a change that Microsoft has made to Word that actually adds real value for users. I spent some time battling Word’s building blocks and header galleries, trying to create autotext entries for standard company header/footers, that would work easily and reliably. Then some user wanted to have landscape pages in the middle of his document, I just couldn’t make it work. But after trying and trying, and seaching and searching, I came across a lead on this page http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/sections2007.htm#Portrait&Landscape. Word’s new Alignment Tabs let you create a header that will adjust itself for portrait/landscape orientation, or other varations in page width. I was blown away at such a simple solution.

  2. Thanks Sarah. I’ll have to look at that — I’ve seen a corporate template that just works to insert a landscape page and the relevant headers/footers when you click a custom toolbar button. Perhaps this is what they used? I’ll check it out.

  3. I have always used your Method 1 to access Footer, but find now that I usually have to use Method 2 – which is time consuming when I just want to make a small change! Wonder if I have accidentally used some hot key combination to change footer access? (using Word 2010)

  4. Hi honoracarmen

    I doubt you’ve used some odd key combination to change the footer access, as I don’t think there’s a built-in key combination to do this (I couldn’t find one).

    If you can still open the header using Method 1, then on the Header and Footer Tools tab there’s an option to ‘Go to Footer’, which jumps you straight to the footer on the current page. Then you can use the next and Previous buttons (also on that tab) to jump to the next/previous ones.


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