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Dealing with the X of Y Bug

Often it is helpful to have not only a page number in your document header or footer, but also an indication of how many pages there are in the entire document. For instance, you could include information such as Page 1 of 432 (or however many pages are in your document). This is easy enough to do with Word, and the program even provides an AutoText entry that allows you to easy add the Page X of Y notation in your header or footer.

The problem is that it may not work properly or consistently. Sometimes the correct numbers appear when you use Print Preview, but they don't print properly. Sometimes they print properly, even though they don't show up correctly in Print Preview. The exact behavior of this feature depends on the version of Word you are using, and perhaps the current phase of the moon. (Just a little tongue-in-cheek lunar humor there. The moon has no discernable effect on the performance of Word, as far as I can tell.)

The X of Y problem first cropped up in Word 97, and has amazingly (and persistently) continued into later versions of the software. The general guidance is to update to the latest service pack for whatever version of Word you are using. (Service releases for Word are available at the Microsoft Web site.) Understand, however, that there have been reports that the latest service packs don't always fix the problem.

If you would like more information on the X of Y problem, including workarounds that you can use in case the service pack updates don't do the trick, make sure you visit the Word MVP site:


WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1311) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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