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.
  8. On the Alignment Tab window, select Left then click OK. Leave all other settings as they are.
  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]


  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.


  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.


  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?


  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….

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