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  • Phil

How to offset page numbering in Word to allow for initial pages


Sometimes it is necessary to exclude the initial pages of a document from the page count, with the first page of the actual body of the document being set to page 1.

This is fine if it’s only the page number being shown in the footer throughout the document. You can just set up the body of the document to start in a new section and use Format Page Numbers to set the page count to start at 1 from there.

However, if your page numbering is set up as ”Page X of Y”, then Y will always show the total number of pages, rather than just the number of pages in the main body of the document. In this instance, you will need to introduce a mechanism to subtract the number of initial pages from the total page count.

To achieve this, you first need to show the field codes:

  • Go into the footer of the document

  • Use ALT + F9 to show the field codes

You should see something like this:

To set up the offset, you first need to put a field within a field:

  • Delete the existing NUMPAGES field

  • Use CTRL + F9 to insert an empty field

Then insert the NUMPAGES field within this field:

  • Go to the Insert Tab

  • Click on QuickParts and select Field

  • Scroll down the list to the NumPages field, select and click OK

You should then see something like this:

To set up the offset:

  • Place the cursor between the two curly brackets before NUMPAGES and insert an equals sign

  • Then, in between the two curly brackets at the end, enter a minus sign followed by the number of initial pages you want to subtract.

So finally, you should end up with something like this:

Hide the field codes using ALT + F9, and the page numbering should now show, calculated correctly.

As you can see, this process is fairly cumbersome and is not for the fainthearted! And, unfortunately, the field codes have to be specifically inserted; the field code text (including curly brackets, etc.) cannot just be copied into place.

What you can do, is copy the page numbering from a document that has already been setup correctly. As such, for anybody who is interested, I can send one of our demo templates which has this configuration already setup. Obviously, it would be necessary to update the offset number to reflect the number of initial pages in your document.

One other thing to bear in mind, if your document has multiple sections and the number of initial pages changes, this will need to be updated in the footer of every section in the body of the document.

For documents with many sections, this could be a bit time consuming. If there is enough interest in this article and people want to know, I will publish a follow up on how this can be achieved more efficiently.

"Thanks so much for posting these helpful instructions! It is the only clear explanation of this process that I was able to find. Worked perfectly." - SM - Project Management Specialist
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