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Word: Auto aligning header/footer info in portrait and landscape pages

July 25, 2014

I didn’t know you could do this!! Not until I read this article, anyway.

One of the annoyances with earlier versions of Word was what happened to left-, centre-, and right-aligned text in headers and footers when you inserted a landscape section. The workaround that many people used to control the placement was borderless tables in the headers/footers combined with ‘AutoFit to Window’.

Well, you don’t have to anymore! It seems this ‘new’ feature has been around since Word 2007, but I must have missed it.

Here’s how to set up a test document to show you how it works; it works the same for headers and footers — I only describe it for headers in these steps:

  1. Start a new (blank) Word document.
  2. Press Enter a couple of times to add some empty paragraphs.
  3. Insert a ‘Next Page’ section break (Page Layout tab > Breaks > Next Page).
  4. Press Enter a couple more times, then insert another Next Page section break. You should now have three blank pages in your test document.
  5. Place your cursor anywhere in page two prior to the section break, then make change this section to landscape orientation (Page Layout tab > Orientation > Landscape).
  6. Go back to page one and double-click in the header area to open the header/footer area.
  7. On the Header & Footer Tools > Design tab, click Insert Alignment Tab.
    header_footer_align_tab01
  8. On the Alignment Tab window, select Left then click OK. Leave all other settings as they are.
    header_footer_align_tab02
  9. Type some text in the header at the cursor position (e.g. ‘left align’).
  10. At the end of the text you just typed, click Insert Alignment Tab again.
  11. On the Alignment Tab window, select Center then click OK.
  12. Type some more text (e.g. ‘center align’). Look what happens — the text you just typed automatically goes to the center position in the header!
  13. At the end of the text you just typed, click Insert Alignment Tab again.
  14. On the Alignment Tab window, select Right then click OK.
  15. Type some more text (e.g. ‘right align’). The text you just typed automatically goes to the right position in the header.
  16. Now check what’s happened on page two — the text you just typed and the tabs you inserted using this method have automatically adjusted for the dimensions of the landscape page.
  17. Now go to page three — this is a portrait page, and the header text has readjusted back to suit that orientation.

Note: If you adjust the margins for the page, the header/footer text alignment also adjusts to suit.

Clever, huh?

See also:

[Link last checked July 2014]

25 comments

  1. Exactly what I was looking for! I didn’t know this existed either!


  2. God bless you who ever has written it, it squeezed my half day hard work of formatting a 1900 page document into 5 minutes of smart work.


  3. Brilliant, This has saved me a lot of time


  4. Wow… a simple explanation, saved me from lot of confusion…


  5. what about auto aligning logos / images in footer can you do this too


  6. Hi Joanne

    That should still work the same, I’d expect. Worth trying, anyway.

    –Rhonda


  7. I would like to have the Company logo on the right hand aligned slot to “behave” the same as text, but its fiddley and keeps moving out of bounds. Am I missing something I need to do? Thanks.


  8. Hi Tony

    I just tried inserting a logo in the right aligned position and it worked fine. However, I have all images set to wrap inline with text, so check your settings for the logo you inserted — right-click on the logo, select Wrap Text, then choose In Line with Text.

    You can make this a setting for ALL images inserted anywhere in your doc through File > Options > Advanced, then scroll to the Cut, Copy and Paste subsection and choose ‘In line with text’ for the ‘Insert/paste pictures as’ option.

    –Rhonda


  9. This has been really helpful for me however, I’ve hit a problem, and when I try to save the document, I get an error message and it throws the alignment back out . .. do you have any ideas why this might happen?


  10. Hi Laura

    Offhand, no. Microsoft error messages are often mysterious to those who have to read them! Do you remember what the message was? Or can you replicate it to get the same error message again?

    –Rhonda


  11. Thank you so much. Took me a while to sort but I did it after following your instructions.


  12. Wow! Brilliant and only found after following four links that said it can’t be done….


  13. I’m working on a large document with a lot of complex codes embedded- the headers (script box with logos and text) are correct on some pages, then often too far over aligned off page, the next few might be correct then another to the other side etc : if you try to adjust one – all move: is there a way – Command/macro/menu so they can all be centred on every page: all are same as previous : the alignment tab only changes text in the header box


  14. Hi there, I am working on a report and I change from 81/2 x 11 portrait page to a 11 x 17 landscaped page followed with next page as 81/2 x 11 portrait. The 11 x 17 landscaped is throwing off my header alignment, so when I try to adjust it negative affects then following page. Any other suggestions I would greatly appreciate the help….Florence


  15. Hi Florence

    You’ll need to go into the header to open the Design tab for headers and footers, then in the Navigation group on that tab, you’ll likely need to turn off ‘Link to Previous’. Depending on your section breaks, you may need to do this with the landscape page and then with the following portrait page. Turn it off in both.

    –Rhonda


  16. Does anyone know if this can be used if you are inserting a shape into the header and footer? I want the shape to be aligned on one landscape page I have inserted as well.


  17. Hi Karen

    I haven’t tested this (as yet), but I assume if the shape is set ‘in line with text’, then it should work. If it floats, then perhaps not.

    –Rhonda


  18. Hi Rhonda,
    My header or footer doesn’t have any text. I only have pictures (logos) and under the logos I want a solid line. It doesn’t align on the landscape page and it then moves the location of the line on the portrait pages.


  19. Hi again Karen

    I just tested this. If it’s an image and text wrap is set to in line with text, it works well.

    But if it’s a shape, and even if wrap is set to in line with text, then the position of the shape on the portrait page will remain the same on the landscape page (i.e. not aligned correctly). You’ll have to move it manually.

    –Rhonda


  20. Thank you


  21. Super thanks!


  22. Exactly what I wanted was what I got. My problem is duly solved. Thanks a lot.


  23. My problem is solved. Exactly what I wanted is this. Thanks.


  24. Great article, but please note that alignment tabs are not supported by earlier versions of Word. Therefore, if you try inserting an alignment tab in an old Word document, the Microsoft Word Compatibility Checker will convert the alignment tab to a traditional tab.

    To solve this problem I copied the contents of my old document into a new Word document. Inserting the alignment tab worked fine afterwards.

    I believe Laura May reported this same problem on 29 May 2018.


  25. I’m very grateful for this. I was battling with this issue for days. I just finished my document and felt like let me ask Google and see what pops up. This was really helpful, thank you very much.



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